Medvedev and Assad in Syria
Russia President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus last year. Photo by AP
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday by saying Moscow wants the Arab people to live in peace and the Syrian leader is aware of his responsibility, Russian news agency RIA reported.

"Every leader of every country must be aware of his share of responsibility. You are aware of yours," state-run RIA quoted Lavrov as saying at the meeting in Damascus.

Lavrov said "it is in our interests for Arab peoples to live in peace and agreement," RIA reported.

The remarks may be intended to prompt Assad to take steps to end 11 months of bloodshed which most of the world blames largely on his government. Russia has said Assad's opponents must also share responsibility for the violence.

Lavrov and Russia's foreign intelligence chief were making a one-day visit to Syria that the Russian Foreign Ministry said was part of Moscow's efforts to "seek the swiftest stabilization of the situation in Syria on the basis of the swiftest implementation of democratic reforms whose time has come."

Russia and China used their veto power on Saturday to block a Western-Arab draft United Nations Security Council resolution that backed an Arab League plan calling for Assad to quit.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria for consultations on Tuesday, a day after Britian and the U.S. stepped up pressure on Syrian leader Assad to step down, a statement from the foreign ministry said.