Syria’s Assad open to U.S. talks — if demands change

UPI – by JC Finley

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 27 (UPI) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave two recent interviews in which he discussed his relationship with U.S. officials, in one saying he would be “open” to dialogue and in another dismissing the United States as “colonialist” and “warmongers.”

“As principle, in Syria we could say that every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States, regarding anything based on mutual respect,” Assad told Charlie Rose during an interview for CBS Evening News that aired Thursday.  

Such a conversation, Assad cautioned, must occur “without pressuring the sovereignty of Syria.”

Assad spoke at length with Russian media in a round-table interview published Friday by theSyrian Arab News Agency in which the president dismissed the United States as “colonialist,” applauded Russia’s support for inter-Syrian dialogue and denied contact with the United States.

“There is no direct dialogue between us and the Americans,” Assad said in response to a question from Rossiyskaya Gazeta concerning reported U.S. attempts to initiate negotiation.

“There are ideas sent through third parties, but they do not constitute a serious dialogue, and we cannot take them seriously. We have to wait until we see a change in the American policy on the ground. Then we can say that there is a policy shift and clear demands.”

“So far,” Assad said, “the U.S. demands are what I described earlier concerning their wish to bring down the Syrian state and replace it with a client state which does their bidding.”

In Russia, Assad sees a friend. “When we talk to the Russians, we know that they know exactly what is happening in Syria, because what is happening in Syria and Russia is similar.”

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