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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 17:32 GMT
Syria 'can broker peace in Iraq'
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Mr Assad said Washington has no vision for Iraq's future
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said his country can play a major role in international efforts to end sectarian violence in Iraq.

He told a US TV interview Syria could help mediate in Iraq with support from the US and other states in the region.

Mr Assad said Syria had credibility in Iraq and the region which could help bring about a ceasefire.

He also accused Washington of trying to make his country a "scapegoat" for failures in its own policy on Iraq.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, the president said: "Our role is going to be through supporting the different parties inside Iraq with support of the other parties like America, and any other country in the world - that's how we can stop the violence."

After nearly four years of occupation, they haven't learned their lesson, they haven't started the dialogue
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

The Syrian president said the US may have missed its moment to bring about peace in Iraq without the help of other parties.

"After nearly four years of occupation, they haven't learned their lesson, they haven't started the dialogue. I think it's too late for them to move toward that," he said.

Mr Assad said the Bush administration had no vision for Iraq's future and was relying too much on military force rather than seeking political solutions to the conflict.

He said: "They only talk about troops and power, not about political process."

Mr Assad went on to praise former President Bill Clinton and US President George W Bush's father, saying the elder Bush had the "will to achieve peace".

A high-level review by the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group published in December said the Bush administration should court Syria and Iran's influence in the region.

The White House rejected the recommendation, instead announcing plans to send an additional 21,500 US troops to Iraq.

'Spilling over'

During the interview Mr Assad denied US allegations that Syria was assisting foreign fighters crossing the border to Iraq, saying the administration was "looking for scapegoats and whipping-boys".

He said Damascus would have no reason to encourage further chaos in Iraq and risk it spilling over into Syria.

Mr Assad's comments come a day after a senior Iraqi official said half of all insurgent attacks in Baghdad were carried out by militants from Syria.

Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi government had provided Damascus with evidence to back up the claim.

President Assad interviewed about Iraq

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