Russia on Friday, December 28 urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to follow through on pledges to meet the opposition and keep all options open for a transition government, Agence France Presse reported. The call came as Moscow revved up its bid to save a tattered peace process by hosting a top Assad envoy and planning for a meeting Saturday with international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow still refused to back international calls on Assad to step down and expected the Syrian people to decide their own country’s fate. But he made explicit that Moscow wanted Assad to put all options on the table after 21 months of violence that have claimed more than 45,000 lives. In the past few weeks Moscow has moved to distance itself from Assad, its last major ally in the Middle East.