UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan has said he is "optimistic" following a second round of talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He said he had handed over "concrete proposals" to end the bloodshed, but acknowledged no deal was yet in place.
The Ghanaian diplomat, one of the world's most seasoned negotiators, said he had told the president an old African proverb: "You can't turn the wind, so turn the sail."
In talks on Saturday, Assad rejected political dialogue while "armed terrorist groups" operated in Syria.
Annan is trying to arrange a ceasefire and gain greater access for humanitarian aid agencies.
But many in the opposition will be sceptical that the Syrian leader will take any notice.
Activists say troops are continuing an assault on the north-western city of Idlib where Free Syrian Army fighters are holed up.