Syrian President Bashar Assad has signaled his willingness to have a dialogue with the United States, as long as it’s “based on mutual respect.” In an interview with CBS News, Assad responded to recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding negotiating with his regime to ensure a peaceful transition in Syria.
“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 ... without pressuring the sovereignty of Syria,” Assad reportedly said, according to an excerpt of the interview published on CBS’ website. However, he added, the U.S. has so far not made a “concrete” move toward any such dialogue. The interview is scheduled to be broadcast at 7 a.m. EDT on Friday.
“What we have in Syria so far is only a statement, nothing concrete yet, no facts, no new reality regarding the political approach of the United States toward our situation, our problem, our conflict in Syria,” Assad, who is currently presiding over a war-torn nation and is battling several rebel factions, including the Islamic State group, reportedly said.
When asked about relations between Syria and the U.S., Assad reportedly said that, as of now, there was no direct communication between the two.
Assad’s comments come just days after Kerry said negotiations with Assad might be necessary “in the end” to resolve the Syrian conflict. However, U.S. officials later clarified that Kerry was not suggesting that the U.S would directly negotiate with Assad, reportedly adding there is no place for a “brutal dictator” like Assad in the Syria.
Washington has also made it clear that its current priority in the Middle Eastern nation is to battle ISIS, which has been in control of several regions in northeastern Syria since June last year.