Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his country wants to cooperate with the new administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, and to contribute to Middle East stability.

Mr. Assad made his remarks in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel released Saturday. 

Mr. Obama has said he may seek Syria's help in curbing Iran's controversial nuclear work.  In response, Mr. Assad said Damascus must be included in the process, and that Syria has long been isolated from the talks.

Mr. Assad also signaled Damascus is not ready to give up its ties to Iran.  He said good relations with the United States would not mean bad relations with Tehran.

Syria's president encouraged Mr. Obama to become seriously involved in the Middle East peace process. He said Syria must help in the process, together with the Europeans.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.