UN Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has said no "sensational decisions" have been made on the crisis.

Mr Brahimi was speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Dublin.

He said: "We have agreed that the situation is bad and we have agreed that we must continue to work together to see how we can find creative ways of bringing this problem under control."

Mrs Clinton is among foreign ministers from over 50 countries in the capital as part of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's annual conference.

She said: "We have been trying hard to work with Russia to stop the bloodshed in Syria and start a political transition towards a post-Assad Syria future."

Russia, one of Syria's closest allies, is seen by many as key to quelling a 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.

Mrs Clinton said fresh reports Syria may be on the verge of using chemical weapons would be addressed.

The surprise meeting with Mr Brahimi had prompted speculation of renewed diplomatic progress towards a solution to the long running Syrian civil war.

Earlier, Mr Brahimi held talks with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore

Meanwhile, Germany has approved sending German Patriot air defence missiles to Turkey to protect the NATO member against possible attacks from Syria.

It is a major step toward a possible Western military role in the Syrian conflict.

Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters that 400 soldiers would be sent to the border area under NATO command for one year, although the deployment could be shortened.

The decision must be endorsed by the German parliament, but approval is all but assured.

The Western alliance decided this week to approve sending the weapons to prevent cross-border attacks against Turkey after mortar rounds and shells from Syria killed five Turks.

Syria has denounced the NATO plan but German officials stressed that the missiles will only be used to defend Turkish territory and would not be a part of any "no fly zone" over Syrian territory.

Officials said the Patriots will be programmed so that they can intercept only Syrian weapons that cross into Turkish airspace.

They are not allowed to penetrate Syrian territory pre-emptively.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said he feared Western countries were voicing concerns over his country's possible use of chemical weapons to lay the ground for intervention, despite Damascus saying it would not use them.

Faisal al-Miqdad said media reports citing US and European intelligence officials as saying Syria was preparing its chemical weapons for possible use were "theatre" in an interview with the Lebanese news channel Al Manar.