Syria's Assad says 'open' to dialogue with US

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Madrid, March 27: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he was "open" to negotiations with Washington, provided that talks are "based on mutual respect".

"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," said al-Assad in excerpts of an interview released on Friday by the US television network, CBS. [Syria awaits actions, not statements by West: Assad]

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The interview will be broadcast in full on Sunday as part of the programme "60 Minutes".

[Assad 'part of the solution' in Syria: UN envoy]

The Syrian president explained that currently there was no direct communication between his government and the US, before insisting that "any dialogue is positive... without pressuring the sovereignty of Syria".

His remarks came days after US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that his government would end up negotiating with the regime in Damascus to reach a political solution to the crisis that has been raging on in Syria since 2011.

"Well, we have to negotiate in the end," Kerry said on Sunday in an interview with CBS from an economic conference in Egypt.

"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," said al-Assad concerning the comment made by Kerry.

Kerry's statement alarmed the Syrian opposition, which strongly objects to al-Assad being part of the future of the country and insists that the president must be removed from before in order for a democratic transition to take place in the country.

Syria has been the scene of a conflict for four years, which has caused some 220,000 deaths and the displacement of over four million refugees, according to the UN.

IANS

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