Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is stronger now thanks to Russia's backing and high-level talks this week must therefore focus on getting Moscow to steer Assad into peace and political talks, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says. Ms Bishop will join US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Vienna on Tuesday for talks on maintaining a shaky ceasefire and getting regime and opposition groups to the negotiating table for a power-sharing settlement. After more than four years of civil war that have claimed at least 250,000 lives, the majority of them killed by the Assad regime, Ms Bishop said she maintained her long-held view that Australia and other players needed to work with Assad in the short-term in order to get a longer-term peace deal. She told Fairfax Media ahead of leaving the election campaign trail to fly to the Austrian capital for the International Syria Support Group meeting that she would be looking to Russia to exert its influence over its ally Assad. "His position is stronger because of the Russian intervention," Ms Bishop said. "That means we have to accept the fact that Assad is there. We have to work with him in the short term in order to gain a medium to long-term solution. When I say work with him, that doesn't mean Australia condones what he's done. "However ... he has to be at the table. "What it does mean is that the Russians have a greater influence over Assad and therefore the negotiations have to focus on Russia using its influence over Assad for longer-term political solution." Ms Bishop acknowledged that the ceasefire negotiated in February had been "patchy" but represented progress and needed to be strengthened. And despite Moscow's claim in March to be withdrawing its forces from Syria, Ms Bishop said that "clearly they have not withdrawn". "This is an opportunity for me to hear directly from Foreign Minister Lavrov as to Russia's intentions," she said. Asked whether the Russians could be taken at face value, she said: "I'll make that determination once we're sitting around the negotiating table and I hear the dialogue and discourse between the various stakeholders." Also on Sunday, Ms Bishop will announce a new $8 million rapid-response unit within her department to respond to overseas emergencies such as terrorist attacks. Prompted by recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, Ankara and Istanbul, the 24-hour "global watch office" will include expert analysts who will advise the government and Australians abroad on how to "respond even more quickly to emergency situations", Ms Bishop said. She said in the wake of crises such as MH-17 and significant terrorist attacks "certainly we think that this kind of much expeditious and focused response is needed".