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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published Monday by the Italian daily La Repubblica that the United States has lost its influence in the Middle East peace process despite the hopes raised by US President Barack Obama.

Assad added that a new era has begun in the Middle East, including an understanding between its major powers that was reshaping the region. He pointed to a similar phenomenon throughout the world, with countries such as China and Brazil refusing to wait for Washington to “hand out roles” and noting that Russia was trying to rebuild its own role in the region.

On relations with Israel, the Syrian leader said that if Tel Aviv was ready to return the Golan Heights to Syria, then “we would not be able to say no to a peace treaty.” However, he added that any deal would have to include a complete solution of the Palestinian issue, saying that he thought Israel was “not ready for an accord at the moment.”

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