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Damascus Ready for Dialogue With US, But Will Not Take Orders From Washington

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Damascus is ready for dialogue with the United States, but will not take, what he called, "instructions" from Washington.

The Syrian leader made the comment in Moscow Tuesday following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A bipartisan U.S. panel, the Iraq Study Group, has recommended that the U.S engage Syria, as well as Iran, in helping to stabilize Iraq. The White House has been cool to the idea.

For his part, the Russian president expressed concern about the tensions in the Middle East, and he vowed to actively participate in the peace process in the region.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Assad were expected to discuss the situation in the Palestinian

Last week, Mr. Putin hosted Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. Mr. Siniora asked for Russia's support in setting up an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. A United Nations investigation into that killing said it found evidence of Syrian involvement.

The Russian leader also recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Some information for this report was provided AFP, AP and Reuters.