Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 13:47 UK

World 'would rue' attack on Iran

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Assad said he would hold talks with Iran on its nuclear programme

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that a military attack on Iran over its nuclear programme would cost the world dearly.

Speaking to French radio, Mr Assad said the United States and Israel in particular would pay the price of such an attack.

He said its consequences could last for years or even decades.

Iran denies it is building a nuclear weapon, but is defying UN demands that it halt uranium enrichment.

Speculation of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities has increased following a report that Israel staged an air exercise which was designed as a rehearsal for such an attack.

[An attack on Iran] will cost the United States and the planet dear. Israel will pay directly the price of this war
Bashar al-Assad

Last week Iran tested missiles capable, it said, of hitting Israel.

"It will cost the United States and the planet dear," Mr Assad told France Inter radio.

"Israel will pay directly the price of this war. Iran has said so. The problem is not the action and reaction. The problem is that when one starts such action in the Middle East, one cannot manage the reactions that can spread out over years or even decades."

Talks with Iran

The Syrian president, who is in Paris for an EU-Mediterranean summit, added that the US administration did not appear to share his fear of the disastrous consequences of an attack.

"This administration is an administration whose doctrine is a warmonger's doctrine. It does not reason with our logic, ours and that of most European countries, most countries in the world," Assad said.

Mr Assad said that, following a request from France, Syria would hold talks with Iran to try and resolve the crisis over its nuclear programme.

"We are going to have discussions with our Iranian friends to get to the heart of the matter, to the details. This is the first time that we had been asked to play a role."

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