US not interested in peace in Middle East: Syrian president

June 19th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) The United States under President George W. Bush was not interested in bringing peace to the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said here Friday. “We look forward to good relations with the US as its role for the peace process in the Middle East is very important. Unfortunately, this US administration is not interested in peace. We will have to wait for the next one,” the Syrian president, who arrived here Tuesday for a five-day visit, told reporters.

In an interaction with journalists at a south Delhi hotel, al-Assad shared his views on the situation in the Middle East and his discussions with Indian leaders over the last two days.

The Syrian president said he felt a “little less pessimistic” than he was a few months ago after Turkey’s initiative to bring peace between Syria and Israel, the Doha talks and the truce reached between the Hamas and the Israeli government.

“There is a glimmer of hope now. There are positive changes that make the picture more positive.”

But he was quick to point that unless these developments were backed with the right steps, the situation in the region could worsen again.

Responding to a question on how he saw the situation in the Middle East evolving the next five years, he said: “We could be an important player but we are not the only one.”

President al-Assad linked the ongoing conflicts in the region, including Palestine, Lebanon and the indirect talks between Syria and Israel, and said: “All three should be negotiated together as one is related to the other and we are all inter-linked.”

He pointed out that stability and peace in Iraq were also crucial as “disintegration” of the country could have a “domino effect” not just in the Middle East but all of Asia.

“The US says all the problems lie with Syria and so does the solution. When they say this, we feel we are a great country,” the president said, taking a dig at Washington. But he made it clear that Syria was willing to do whatever it could to bring peace in the region.

“We are going to help in the peace initiatives. We can also help in Iraq. But it depends on the Americans whether they want to see real and viable solutions to these problems.”

Syria is now chair of the six-member Arab League.

On Iran, al-Assad felt that like any other country Iran also had the right to peaceful use of nuclear technology as long as they follow the international rules and laws. “The problem is with the US. It is a political problem.”

He felt direct negotiation between the Americans and the Iranians could help ease much of the problem.

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