Syrian President Bashar Assad says he would be “open” to a dialogue with the United States, but that it must be “based on mutual respect.”
Mr. Assad made the remarks in an interview with Charlie Rose for CBS News’ 60 Minutes. A short excerpt of the interview was posted online late Thursday.
In the clip, Mr. Assad said that, in principle, “every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States.” He said there is no direct communication so far with Washington.
Mr. Assad’s comments come after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this month that the U.S. must eventually talk with the Syrian government to help broker an end to the country’s civil war. The Obama administration later reiterated its position that Mr. Assad has no future role in Syria.
“I would say 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,” Mr. Assad said in the interview.
Washington has long pushed for a negotiated political settlement to Syria’s conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and wounded 1 million more. The U.S. helped coax Mr. Assad’s government and its opponents to the negotiating table early last year, although those talks then collapsed after two rounds without making progress.
Since Syria’s uprising began in March 2011, Mr. Assad’s government has publicly supported international diplomatic efforts to ease or resolve the conflict, while simultaneously ignoring commitments it has made under brokered agreements.