Syria's Assad not ready to stand down
Moscow: Syrian authorities on Friday denied reports that said President Bashar al-Assad was preparing to leave office "in an orderly way".
A statement on Syrian state television said the rumours were "completely devoid of truth".
The denial came after comments by Russia's Ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, to French radio.
"At the Geneva conference, there was a final communiqué that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system," Orlov told RFI radio.
"This final communiqué was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way," Orlov was quoted as saying.
When contacted by RIA Novosti, a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Paris said Orlov's comments had been misinterpreted.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - agreed on June 30 in Geneva that a transitional government should be set up in Syria. The text of the document said this could include members of the government and opposition, although Russia later objected to US suggestions that the deal ruled out any role for Assad.
The UN, quoting Syrian rights activists, says around 16,000 people have died in Syria since the start of the 17-month people's uprising against Assad.
Russia's Foreign Ministry on Friday dismissed rumours that said Assad's British-born wife Asma had fled to Moscow following the death of the country's defence minister in a suicide blast in Damascus Wednesday.