BERLIN, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said they favored a political solution for Syria and agreed to work with other countries to prevent the crisis in the country from worsening.
Speaking at a press conference after bilateral talks with the German chancellor in Berlin, Putin reiterated that Russia does not support any party in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Russia wants to help UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan achieve "positive results" in Syria, and "believe a political solution could be found," Putin added.
Merkel said Annan's plan could be a starting point for a political solution to the Syria crisis, but added, "We must work with all energy to implement this plan and develop additional political activities if necessary."
Moscow has been under pressure from western countries to harden its position on the conflict in Syria. Several European countries expelled Syrian diplomats from their countries after the recent killings of civilians in the central Syrian town of Houla.
The Syrian government categorically denied involvement in the massacre and blamed armed groups of carrying out the killings to tarnish the Syrian administration and call in foreign military intervention.
"Russia and its stance towards the Assad regime plays a key role in the Syrian crisis," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was quoted as saying by German newspaper Die Welt on Friday.
"The political and diplomatic paths are extremely difficult but we must pursue them," Westerwelle added, warning against a discussion about military intervention in Syria.
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Russia as "going to help contribute to a civil war" in Syria. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that Russia supports Annan's peace plan, and Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia's position was "balanced and consistent and completely logical."
Putin's Berlin visit is part of his first foreign trip since being sworn in as president last month. Later on Friday, Putin will fly to Paris to meet with French President Francois Hollande.