The opposition Syrian National Council on Tuesday called on Russia to withdraw its support for President Bashar Assad.
Delegates from the umbrella group representing seven Syrian opposition parties were in Moscow to try to convince the Russian government to urge Assad to quit.
“We told our Russian colleagues that to make the start of talks possible, we believe it is necessary for Russia and the international community to send an important signal and demand Bashar Assad’s resignation,” said Burhan Ghalioun, the chairman of the Syrian National Council.
After the talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavror, Moscow issued a statement urging all Syrian opposition groups that opposed violence to join the Arab League’s plan and engage in dialogue with the authorities.
The Kremlin has held back from criticising its top Middle East ally amid an eight-month crackdown on anti-government protests.
Russia sells weapons to Syria and maintains a naval base there. Its investments in the country stood at some 15 billion euros in 2009, the Moscow Times reported on September 2.
The United Nations estimates at least 3,500 people have died since the crisis began.