French President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to speak with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in the next two days to discuss the crisis in Syria, which he described as a scandal.

Paris has been prominent in Western efforts to try to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end a violent crackdown on protests.

France and Germany will not abandon the Syrian people, Sarkozy said on Monday, flanked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, following a Franco-German summit in Paris.

Sarkozy initially planned to make the call on Monday, but his office later said it would happen in the next 48 hours.

On Saturday, Sarkozy said Paris was consulting with Arab and European countries to create a Syrian contact group to find a solution to the crisis after Russia and China vetoed a resolution at the U.N. Security Council.

What's happening is a scandal. We will not accept that the international community remains blocked, Sarkozy told a news conference, adding that Prime Minister Francois Fillon would also speak to Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin.

Russia still hopes to play a diplomatic role with Assad, a long-term ally and buyer of Moscow's arms exports, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to fly to Damascus on Tuesday to hold talks with Assad.

Paris has suggested a need to set up zones to protect civilians, the first proposal by a Western power for outside intervention on the ground.

Merkel, whose country co-sponsored the U.N. resolution with Arab League backing, said she was appalled that it had not been voted through, and backed Sarkozy's call for a contact group.

I have to say here, Russia must ask itself if we are really in a historical situation where policy should be made separately from the Arab League. I can't imagine that this will prove to be a big success, she said.

Sarkozy said neither France nor Germany could accept the status quo and would work with the Arab League to raise pressure on Syria.

It's very surprising that the Russians, who have always been close to the Arab League's position, would distance themselves from it today - you wonder why, Sarkozy said.

(Reporting By John Irish and Yann Le Guernigou; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Alessandra Rizzo)