Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is open to having a dialogue with the United States, but there can be no “pressuring of the sovereignty” of his country, he said in an excerpt of an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that was aired on Thursday. The entire interview will air on PBS during “Charlie Rose” on March 30
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Assad’s Syria just entered its fifth year of a brutal civil war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 210,000 people.
The interview comes nearly a week after Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News that the United States is open to negotiating with Assad in order to broker peace for the war-torn nation.
RT reports: The West is using the same tactic in Syria as it is in Ukraine, aiming to weaken Russia by creating puppet states around it, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said. He added that Syria is open to hosting a Russian naval base on its territory.
“There is a connection between the Syrian crisis and what is happening in Ukraine. Firstly, because both countries are important for Russia. Secondly, because there is a goal in both cases to weaken Russia and create puppet states,” Assad told Russian reporters in an interview scheduled to be published on Friday, as quoted by RIA Novosti.
The Syrian president said the West does not have a political solution to the crisis in Syria, claiming it is only interested in destroying the government.
“They want to turn us into puppets. I do not think that the West has a political solution. It does not want one. When I say the West, I am primarily referring to the US, France, the UK. Other countries are secondary.”
Assad explained that his goal as president involves successfully repelling foreign involvement in the country. “It is clear that the duty of any state is to protect the interests of the people and the country. And, of course, the role of the government is to implement these interests,” he said.
‘Syria welcomes Russian naval base expansion’
When asked about the Russian naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus, Assad said that his government would support the idea of reviving and expanding it into a military base, should Moscow seek such an option.
“We welcome the expansion of Russian presence in [the] eastern Mediterranean, especially near our shores and in our ports,” he said.
The Syrian leader criticized the coalition for its lack of quality and quantity of airstrikes. “It is possible that some of the countries involved do not want the Islamic State’s expansion in Syria and Iraq, but at the same time, it does not look like they want to finish ISIS. They want to use this terrorist organization to threaten and blackmail other states.”
Moreover, he warned that the decision to send peacekeepers into Syria is unacceptable and could have dangerous consequences. If implemented, the move would mean recognizing the Islamic State.
“The peacekeeping force is usually based between countries at war with each other. And when someone talks about sending peacekeepers to deal with IS, that acknowledges IS as a state. Such rhetoric is unacceptable and dangerous,” Assad stressed.
‘Syria not in contact with US’
The Syrian president told Russian journalists that Damascus has no direct contact with the US and is not involved in any discussions.
“Certain ideas get passed down through third parties, but that cannot be considered as serious dialogue,” Assad said, adding that the only option for his country is to wait for American policies to change.
According to the leader’s point of view, there are two political camps in the US – a peace-leaning one and a more radical, aggressive one. The former is “a minority,” while the latter calls all the shots in foreign policy.
The warmongers in the second camp fully support aggressive ideas such as direct US military involvement in Syria and Iraq, as well as sending weapons to Ukraine.
‘Peacekeepers in Syria would mean recognition of Islamic State’
US-led airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) positions in Syria do not cause serious damage to the terrorists. Instead, they destroy civilian infrastructure in the country, Assad stressed.