MOSCOW, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday Moscow and Riyadh agreed on steps to help the Syrian government renew dialogue with all Syrian opposition groups about the future of the beleaguered country.
"We agreed to continue practical steps, we agreed on them, which are aimed at preparing the optimal conditions for a renewal of dialogue between the [Syrian] government and all the Syrian opposition," said Lavrov at a news conference after talks with his Saudi counterpart Adil al-Ahmad al-Jubeir, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Russia has supported Bashar al-Assad's government since the civil war began four years ago. According to United Nations estimates, the conflict has killed over 200,000 people.
Last week, The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution to create an investigative panel to hold chemical weapons users in the Syrian civil war accountable. The resolution -- drafted by the United States -- was passed unanimously by the 15-member Council.
While the Saudis have called for Assad's ouster, the two countries have boosted ties to fight the Islamic State.
"Our principled approaches to the resolution of the [Syria] crisis coincide but we also have some differences. One of them is the fate is President al-Assad," added Lavrov. as reported by Interfax.
"The standpoint of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Syria crisis is unchanged; it is based on the provisions of the first Geneva communique and maintains that there is no place for incumbent President al-Assad in the future of Syria," countered al-Jubeir at the press conference in Moscow.
"We have emphasized the need to preserve governmental and military structures after al-Assad," he added.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Syrian opposition groups will be invited to Moscow over the next two weeks for continued talks.