Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is praising U.S. President Barack
Obama and says he would like to "welcome" the U.S. leader to Syria.
state-run news agency, SANA, says the Syrian leader sent a
congratulatory telegram to President Obama to mark the July 4
Independence Day holiday. The telegram complimented Mr. Obama on the
values he has adopted, saying they are the values that the world needs
Mr. Assad also extended an informal invitation to the
U.S. president during an interview with Sky News, broadcast late
Thursday. The Syrian leader said the U.S. "has a special role as the
greatest power," but that the timing of a meeting depends on President
The Syrian leader also said that while he and Mr. Obama may not agree on everything, he said "this is how we can close the gap."
has long accused Damascus of supporting groups like Hamas that the U.S.
considers terrorist organizations. It also has voiced concern about
Syria's human rights record and its role in neighboring Lebanon. But
recent developments suggest the relationship between the U.S. and Syria
may be thawing.
The U.S. announced last week that it plans to
reinstate its ambassador to Syria after a four-year absence. A White
House spokesman said the move reflects the administration's hope of the
role that the Syrian government can play constructively, to promote
peace and stability in the region.
Last month, U.S. envoy George Mitchell met with President Assad in Damascus for discussions on Middle East peace efforts.
described the talks as serious and productive, and said Syria has an
integral role to play in U.S. efforts to secure a comprehensive peace
in the Middle East.