BEIRUT: Syria's main opposition group said Russia must now put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to end the spiralling conflict, a Syrian National Coalition (SNC) spokesman told AFP on Sunday.
"The ball is now in Russia's court. If Russia is genuinely thinking about the future of its interests in the region, we think it should side with the Syrian people's legitimate grievances, and not with those who are killing the Syrian people," spokesman Walid al-Bunni told AFP by telephone.
He spoke a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a first round of talks with SNC chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib in Munich.
Asked whether he thought Moscow will put pressure on Assad, Bunni said the SNC "hopes so."
"The Russian government said it was open to a solution that would meet the Syrian people's aspirations," said Bunni, although he conceded that there has been "no breakthrough in Russia's stance."
While Lavrov expressed an interest in "maintaining regular contact" with the opposition, he also said the dissidents' insistence on Assad going "is the main reason for the continuation of the Syrian tragedy."
At the same time, he welcomed the opposition's willingness to start talks with regime officials.
"This meeting was certainly a positive step," said Bunni, adding that "the majority" of SNC members backed Khatib.
While Assad's regime has yet to issue an official reaction to Khatib's meeting with Lavrov, state-owned Syrian daily Ath Thawra said on Sunday that there was no change in Russia's position.
Moscow's support for the fight against rebels seeking to overthrow Assad "is becoming more solid each day," the paper said.