Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told visiting UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan that no political dialogue can succeed in his country while "armed terrorist groups" are operating.
Assad said Syria would back "any honest effort to find a solution".
The UN said Annan's task was to call for an immediate ceasefire by the army and the opposition.
Annan's talks with Assad lasted for more than two hours, after which Annan met Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem over lunch.
Annan is due to meet Assad again today and is expected to also seek talks with opposition figures before he leaves.
Coinciding with Annan's arrival, a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers has been taking place in Cairo, attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Earlier, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said "limited progress" had been made on aid but much more was needed.