"The latest comments attributed to President Assad do not change his position in any way. Even so, Syrian state media moved quickly to say the report of his remarks by a Russian news agency was inaccurate.
"This may or may not be so. But in the game of bluff that the government and the opposition have been playing ahead of the talks, neither side wants to be seen as the obstacle to negotiation.
"That does not mean they are actually prepared to negotiate or compromise, but they do not want to be stigmatized as the main problem in the way of that process."