Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told Moscow on Tuesday that Damascus has started fulfilling the peace plan of envoy Kofi Annan but Russia said the regime should be more decisive in implementing the initiative.
The visit by the veteran foreign minister to Moscow coincides with a deadline under the Annan plan for the Syrian government to withdraw forces from protest cities amid Western worries that the peace plan is in tatters.
"I told my Russian colleague of the steps Syria is taking to show its goodwill for the implementation of the Annan plan. We have already withdrawn military units from different Syrian provinces," Muallem said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He added that a ceasefire should begin "simultaneously" with the arrival of international observers.
Lavrov however made clear said that Syria should be more decisive in fulfilling the plan of Annan, which most notably calls on Syria to pull out government forces and weaponry from cities hit by protests.
"We believe their actions could have been more active, more decisive when it comes to the implementation of the plan," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with Muallem.
He said however that Muallem had informed him that Damascus was starting to implement the key conditions of the plan concerning the withdrawal of weaponry and troops.
"An immediate cessation of fire is the number one task," said Lavrov.
"We urgently call on our Syrian colleagues to strictly implement all their obligations in accordance with the Kofi Annan plan," Lavrov said.
Russia has repeatedly condemned the West for taking what it says is a one-sided approach in the conflict but has in recent weeks shown signs of growing exasperation with the intransigence of the Assad regime.
"We consistently work towards this goal (democracy in Syria) with the Syrian government without any sort of hidden agenda, wishing peace and flourishing of the Syrian nation," said Lavrov.