Instead of asking Russia to increase pressure on the Syrian authorities, Washington itself should contact officials in Damascus directly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"Regarding the claims that the U.S. will be increasing pressure on Damascus, if we are talking about political pressure, we have always called on the United States to work with the Syrian authorities directly," he told a press conference after talks with his Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh on Monday.

"I said this to (U.S. Secretary of State) John Kerry too, including in reply to his repeated calls to influence the regime so it is more flexible in terms of certain things," the Russian foreign minister said.

Moscow is in contact with the Syrian authorities virtually on a daily basis anyway, and the statistics show the biggest number of Syria's problems coming not from Bashar Assad's regime but from terrorist and extremist groups, Lavrov said.

The information in this section is provided by the Interfax news agency and is intended for personal use only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without express permission from Interfax. To request permission to republish, email: ifaxru@interfax.ru