French efforts to persuade Russia to change its stance over Syria appear to have floundered.
Despite a warm handshake as Presidents Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin met in Paris, Moscow remains opposed to any more sanctions on Damascus.
The divergence in the two positions was clear at a press conference.
Hollande told journalists: “The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has behaved in an unacceptable and intolerable manner and has committed acts which disqualify it. No solution to this situation is possible without the departure of Bashar al-Assad.”
Putin countered by asking: “How many civilians have died at the hands of others, for example, at the hands of the rebels? Have you counted this loss? It’s hundreds of people. Our objective consists in bringing together all the parties in the conflict. We will not choose sides. We want to help all parties and we will do so in a manner that a political solution is found.”
As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has a power of veto on any United Nations action.