Syrian president: US is main obstacle to peace

Syrian President Bashar Assad called the United States the main obstacle to a Mideast peace settlement, saying in an interview published Monday that he does not expect movement on the peace process in the next two years. Assad's remarks dampen hopes that a summit of Arab leaders set for March 28-29 in the Saudi capital can build momentum for reviving the peace process between Israel and Arab nations. The summit is expected to relaunch a Saudi peace plan adopted by the Arab League in 2002, but so far rejected by Israel. At the same time, Arab countries are pushing Washington to deal with a new Palestinian coalition government that includes the militant Hamas movement. In an interview with the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazira, Assad said "the main obstacle, in my opinion, regarding the peace process, is the... American administration's rejection of the peace process... There's an American administration without a vision, and the US administration, unfortunately, is central to all peace processes in the region," he said, according to the paper. Assad said that international envoys have shuttled between Syria and Israel, carrying each country's point of view regarding peace to the other, but that nothing concrete has happened on the ground.