Assad to Olmert: Take a chance, See if we're bluffing
In interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Syrian president calls on Israel to return to negotiating table, says Damascus willing to cooperate with Washington in resolving regional issues. Referring to Iranian Holocaust conference, Assad says Europe has 'complex over Jewish Holocaust'
Assad told Rome's la Repubblica newspaper: "I say to (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert: 'Take a chance. Discover if we are bluffing or not.'"
Asked about this week's conference sponsored by Iran questioning the Holocaust - the killing of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two - Assad said: "Listen, Europe has a complex about the Holocaust. We don't because we didn't do it."
Assad also stated Damascus rwaseady to cooperate with Washington to resolve regional issues and challenged Israel to open up to Syria.
"The fact is that we (Syrians) live in this region, we know it well," he said in the long interview, adding that Washington "needs our help" to formulate a plan for Iraq.
Asked if he was ready to work constructively with Washington, he said: "Certainly we are ready to do so. Because if you don't resolve regional questions - Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it will be we bordering countries that will pay the highest price."
Syria had "excellent relations" with many factions in Iraq and could support a national conference on the future of the country, he said. Assad also said the United States and Europe "must talk to Tehran".
A report released last week in Washington by a special panel recommended the United States engage Syria and Iran to bring about stability in Iraq.
Assad said the Iraq Study Group report vindicated Syria's position that it had to be listened to.