MOSCOW, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with the Syrian National Coalition leader Khaled Khoja Thursday in Moscow in an attempt to seek a political settlement in the prolonged civil war that has claimed over 200,000 deaths.
While Lavrov stressed the need to tackle terrorism, particularly in the fight against the Islamic State, the sticking point between the two sides remains with how to deal with President Bashar al-Assad. Russia believes Assad, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, should be involved in a coalition against the Islamic State while the opposition group believes the Alawite strongman has lost all governing legitimacy.
"Everyone has an interest in putting barriers in the way of terrorism. Everyone has an interest in a speedy political settlement in Syria on the basis of the Geveva communique," Lavrov said. "The most important thing is to turn these interests into coordinated actions now. I hope that our meeting will help us progress on the path," he added, as reported by Russia Today.
"We are in contact with all the political forces in Syria, both with the government, and with all the opposition groups working inside the country and abroad. We are working with all external players including countries in the region, the United States, and our European partners."
Lavrov also underscored that keeping the status quo within Syria would be unacceptable, TASS reported. Russia has maintained that the only way to defeat IS is for all anti-IS forces, including the Syrian government, to be united in their efforts.
Last week, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution to create an investigative panel to hold chemical weapons users in the Syrian civil war accountable.