Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that he is willing to sign a peace agreement with Israel in exchange for the Golan Heights.

In an interview with the Italian daily newspaper La Republica, Assad added that he did not think it necessary to break Syria's strong ties with Iran in order to make peace with Israel.

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The Syrian president maintained in the interview that the US has lost its influence in the Middle East and should not be depended on to bring peace to the region.

Assad differentiated between US President Barack Obama, who he said brought hope to the Middle East, and the US itself. He claimed that Obama has good intentions, but is powerless to affect real change in the region because of the Congress and lobbies involved in decision making.

Assad denied Israeli claims that Syria supplied Hizbullah with Scud missiles. He maintains that these  allegations are an Israeli diversion meant to avoid a peace settlement.

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