Seoul:  Removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power is not a quick and easy fix for the country's problems, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday.

"The internal conflict currently tearing Syrian society apart will not disappear with the departure of one or another political figure," said Medvedev during the two-day nuclear summit in Seoul that concluded on Tuesday.

"To consider that Assad's departure would solve all the problems would be very nearsighted."

"I would like the decision on the fate of the Syrian state, society, political system and people to be taken not by the respected leaders of world powers, even by those acting in good faith, but by the Syrian people themselves, by all levels of Syrian society," the Russian President said.

On Sunday, Medvedev said that UN-Arab envoy Kofi Annan's peace mission to Syria might be the last chance to avoid a "prolonged and bloody civil war".

In an apparent hardening of Russia's position on Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week said that Assad handled initial peaceful protests "incorrectly". On Tuesday, Russia said it would not attend the second Friends of Syria meeting, set for this weekend in Istanbul.

According to the UN, over 8,000 people have been killed, many of them civilians, during the year-long uprising against Assad's rule.