After the 40-minute session, Brahimi said that no major decisions were taken but that the three parties had agreed to work together.
“We have agreed that the situation is bad, and we have agreed that we must continue to work together to see how we can find creative ways of bringing this problem under control.”
Sources have told CBS News the U.S. has detected signs that Syria's government is preparing chemical weapons for possible use, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets in Ireland with Russia's Foreign Minister.
Conflict in Syria: A year in bloodshed
The State Department official, who insisted on anonymity, said in a written statement that the meeting had focused “on how to support a political transition in practical terms’’ and that American and Russian officials would meet again with Brahimi within days “to discuss the specifics of taking this work forward.’’
The U.S.-Russian discussion took place on the sidelines of an unrelated meeting of the election-monitoring Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
It came ahead of a gathering of the Western-backed Friends of Syria group in Morocco next week, at which the United States is expected to recognize a reorganized Syrian political opposition as the legitimate successor to the Assad regime.
Russia is highly unlikely to back any military action against the Syrian government, and U.S. officials say military action is not their goal. It was also not clear that Russia intends to withdraw its support for Assad, but Lavrov’s willingness to attend the meeting indicated that the Kremlin is exploring its options.
Brahimi took over the envoy role from Kofi Annan, whose plan for a cease-fire and peace talks for Syria fell apart earlier this year.
Brahimi has called for a U.N. Security Council resolution based on a deal that world powers reached in Geneva in June to set up a transitional Syrian government in a bid to end the conflict. That document did not specify what role, if any, Assad would play in such a transitional administration.
U.S. officials say that a stronger U.N. mandate would put further pressure on Assad to step down and that Russian agreement over such an effort would leave the Syrian president with no meaningful international support. Any withdrawal of Russian backing for Assad could help convince him that he cannot hold on to power any longer, the officials say.
Russian intervention is likely only if President Vladimir Putin concludes that the Syrian government will be defeated. Putin wants guarantees that Russia will keep its naval base and preferential trade ties even in a post-Assad Syria; experts say that one way of maintaining that influence could be for Moscow to join international efforts to push and plan for Assad’s departure.
Syria’s deputy foreign minister said Thursday that Western powers were whipping up fears about the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war as a “pretext for intervention.”
Meanwhile, Obama administration officials say they are continuing to encourage those close to Assad to defect.