The Guardian has this splashed all over its front page tonight:
The wonderful Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor is the man with the coup. He knows Damascus well, and has travelled to Syria several times over the past couple of years.
“There is no substitute for the United States,” Bashar said – urging Barack Obama to dive in headfirst to the peace process.
“Referring to Obama’s call for countries to “unclench their fists” , Assad said he believed the new US president had been referring to Iran. “We never clenched our fist,” he declared. “We still talked about peace even during the Israeli aggression in Gaza.” ”
“The Syrian leader said he would welcome a visit to Damascus by General David Petraeus, the head of US central command, to discuss collaboration over Iraq and other issues. A planned visit by Petraeus was blocked by the Bush White House.”
And you can read the full piece here.