David Cameron discussed Syria with Vladimir Putin at the Russian President's holiday home today, but the talks appeared to provide little in the way of concrete progress in the search for a solution to the crisis.
In brief comments after the meeting, held during a one-day visit to the Black Sea resort of Sochi by Mr Cameron, the two leaders spoke more about positive developments in bilateral trade and cooperation. Mr Cameron glossed over the thorny issues that have proved a stumbling block in relations in recent years and instead vowed to build "a more effective relationship" between the two countries.
He also said there would be "limited cooperation" between British and Russian security services in the build-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics next year, a relationship that has been suspended ever since the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
The majority of the discussion was about Syria, however, with Mr Cameron visiting Sochi before a trip to Washington to meet with Barack Obama on Monday.
"The history of Syria is being written in the blood of its people," said Mr Cameron, stressing the urgency of finding a breakthrough in the conflict. He added that he fully supported a plan drawn up in Moscow earlier this week by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to convene a conference later this month that would bring together Syrian government and opposition representatives.
"We urgently have to do more… to break the vicious cycle that threatens to destroy Syria," said Mr Cameron after exiting the talks with Mr Putin. However, the Russian President hardly mentioned Syria in his remarks, and there were precious few details about how progress might be made.
Mr Lavrov announced during the talks that Russia had no plans to sell Syria the advanced S-300 air defence system, as rumoured in the international press in recent days. However, he added that all outstanding contracts would be fulfilled, and did not specify whether this included a contract for the S-300 system.