PARIS (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told a French newspaper his country is unlikely to enter direct peace talks with Israel while President George W. Bush is in office.
However, in an interview published on the website of Le Figaro daily on Monday, Assad said he was betting that the next U.S. leader would get more involved in the peace process.
Assad said Syria and Israel were looking for common ground to start face-to-face negotiations, adding that it was vital to find the right country to mediate such talks.
“The most important thing in direct negotiations is who sponsors them,” Assad told Le Figaro, saying the United States had an essential role to play.
“Frankly, we do not think that the current American administration is capable of making peace. It doesn’t have either the will or the vision and it only has a few months left,” he said.
“When we have established a common foundation (for negotiations) at indirect talks with Israel, perhaps we could give some trump cards to the new administration to make it get more involved,” he added.
“We are betting on the next president and his administration,” he said.
The next U.S. president will take office next January.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Elizabeth Piper)