MOSCOW: Russia on Monday called on Syria's newly-united opposition to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad without interference from abroad.
Syria's opposition factions agreed at a conference in Qatar at the weekend to create a new National Coalition led by moderate Muslim cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib that aims to win broad international recognition.
In its first reaction to the move, the Russian foreign ministry emphasised in a statement that the new coalition should act in the interests of Syria and not foreign powers.
"The main criteria for us is that members of such alliances must act based on a platform of peaceful regulation of the conflict by Syrians themselves, without interference from outside and through dialogue and negotiation," it said.
Russia has had tense relations with the Syrian opposition who have repeatedly accused Moscow of siding with Assad in the conflict that according to activists claimed 37,000 lives.
The Kremlin in turn has lashed out at the West, Turkey and pro-opposition Arab states like Qatar for fuelling the conflict by openly backing the Syrian opposition.
Playing up its public stance of even-handedness, the foreign ministry said Moscow was in touch with both sides to emphasise that Syria needed a swift end to the bloodshed and a transitional political process.
"We are continuing contacts both with the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of Syrian opposition forces, pressing them to take a constructive position," it said.