Lavrov speaks on Assad's leave, airstrike, WWII

MOSCOW: Moscow did not ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, nor did it offer him political asylum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"In both cases, the answer is: 'No'," Lavrov told his annual news conference. "This is untrue... No one asked about political asylum, and no one offered anything of the kind."

Lavrov also said Islamic State militants were building up influence in Afghanistan.

On a different topic, he also said Moscow does not want to take back refugees who crossed into Norway from Russia.

"The talk is about people who arrived in Russia with a purpose of either to work in Russia or to visit relatives. They had not declared their (true) purpose of visit as transit to Norway," Lavrov told his annual news conference.

"This means that they had deliberately stated false data about the purpose of their visit to the Russian Federation. This is why we do not want to admit these people back to Russia."

No proof Russian air strikes in Syria killed civilians

No one has ever supplied proof that Russian air strikes in Syria caused civilian deaths or struck the wrong militant groups, said Lavrov told a news conference.

He said the Russian military went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Syria.

Moscow has information that Islamic State militants are being trained in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge near Russia's border, Sergei Lavrov said.

Sergei Lavrov says Japan should recognise WWII outcome

Lavrov said it was impossible to solve a territorial dispute with Japan unless Tokyo formally recognises the outcome of World War Two.

Tokyo and Moscow have been involved in a decades-old dispute over islands north of Hokkaido, known as the Kuriles in Russia and referred to as the Northern Territories in Japan.