GENEVA, Switzerland, June 30 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he is hopeful about prospects for salvaging a peace plan for Syria.
Lavrov's comments Friday came on the eve of an international conference Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on the peace plan for Syria brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the BBC reported.
After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Lavrov said, "We have a very good chance to find common ground at the conference in Geneva tomorrow."
He said he sensed a "change in Hillary Clinton's position, adding: "There were not ultimatums. Not a word was said that the document we will discuss in Geneva is untouchable."
But later, a U.S. State Department official told reporters "there are still areas of difficulty and difference" over Russia's position on Syria.
A U.N. resolution calls for Syrian President Bashar Assad to be removed, but Russia has expressed opposition to removing him.
A Syrian human-rights group reported about 4,700 of the 15,800 killed since the 16-month uprising against Assad began have died since the cease-fire began in mid-April, the BBC said.
More than 180 people were killed in Syria Friday, rights groups said.
Syrian forces shelled a suburb of Damascus and the city of Homs, rights groups said.
The Saturday conference in Geneva includes the five members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Russia, Great Britain, China and France -- as well as Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.
Meanwhile, Assad told Iranian TV he would reject any solution to the Syrian violence imposed from outside the country.
He called the crisis an "internal issue" that has "nothing to do with foreign countries."
Assad has repeatedly blamed foreign "terrorists" for the violence in Syria.