ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Syria is ready to withdraw troops from Syrian cities simultaneously with the armed opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.
After talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in St. Petersburg, Lavrov told Russia-24 TV channel that the withdrawal should be carried out under international observation.
"The governmental forces and the armed opposition should withdraw synchronically from cities... The Syrian government is ready for this step, the minister (Moallem) told me about it," Lavrov said.
Meanwhile, Lavrov also urged Damascus to implement a peace plan presented by U.N.-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan.
"We urged them to support statements on their readiness to implement Kofi Annan's plan with real actions. They have already done much, but must do more," Lavrov said, stressing that the opposite side must do the same.
"Now, we are in an acute phase of the crisis," he said.
Lavrov also stressed that the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be decided by the country's free elections.
"Only the Syrian people could decide the country's fortune, including the destiny of their leaders," Lavrov said, adding that the elections must be "absolutely free and fair" and be conducted under strict international controls.
The western countries' proposal saying Syria's political set-up is possible only after Assad's resignation was counter-constructive, he said.
Besides, Lavrov said, Russia was not going to excuse itself to Washington for its arms shipments to Syria.
"One cannot accuse us as we violate nothing," he stressed, adding that Russian arms supplies to Damascus, which consisted mostly of anti-aircraft systems, were not a secret.