Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov criticised Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for causing tension in Syria after he announced that he might run for president in 2014.
Al-Assad has indicated several times that he plans to run in the 2014 presidential elections. "I do not see any reason not to run for the presidency," he commented in October. Many of his aides have also repeatedly insisted upon Al-Assad's right to run for the presidency.
Speaking on Thursday to the Russian news agency Interfax, Bogdanov directly criticised the Syrian president, saying that: "Exchanging such rhetorical statements just makes the atmosphere heavier and does not make the situation calmer."
Al-Assad's remarks about his presidential plans have aroused the anger of the Syrian opposition, which has been calling for him stepping down as a condition for starting the peace negotiations.
Bogdanov called for both Al-Assad and the opposition to reduce tensions ahead of the Geneva II conference, slated to be held in February. "We believe that ahead of the peace talks there should be no statements which someone may not like and can cause emotions and a reaction in response," he said.