Syria calls for constructive dialogue with U.S.

Other News Materials 31 January 2009 15:13 (UTC +04:00)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday underlined the importance of conducting a "positive and constructive" dialogue with the United States, the official SANA news agency reported.

Assad made the remarks while meeting with a visiting U.S. congressional delegation headed by Adam Smith, noting that the dialogue should be built on the basis of mutual interests and reciprocal respect, Xinhua reported.

Assad also reviewed Syria's vision of the situation in the Middle East, particularly following the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip, said the report.

In turn, the American delegation underlined Syria's important role in the region, expressing the new U.S. administration's desire to develop the Syrian-American relations in the service of stability in the Middle East, SANA said.

During an interview on Monday with Lebanon's al-Manar TV, mouthpiece of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, Assad said his country is willing to conduct dialogue with the U.S. without any preconditions.

"If there were preconditions, there won't be dialogue, they know this thing," Assad said, adding that "but I think dialogue has started many weeks ago seriously through figures close to the U.S. administration."

Syria was under continuous isolation during George W. Bush's administration, which demanded Damascus to stop supporting militant Palestinian groups and the Lebanese Hezbollah, sever its ties with Iran and control its borders with Iraq and stem anti-U.S. infiltrations from crossing into Iraq.

Assad also expressed during the interview cautious hope that U.S. President Barack Obama could bring peace settlement to the region instead of wars.

"But I return to say we have to be aware because there are a big number of balances in the U.S. itself and we don't know what is the European role," he cautioned.