Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued an informal invitation to President Barack Obama to visit Damascus for talks, in a sign that relations between the two countries may gradually be thawing. Skip related content
"We would like to welcome him to Syria, definitely," Assad told Sky News in an interview broadcast on Friday. "I am very clear about this."
Asked whether a meeting could take place any time soon, Assad replied: "That depends on him." Smiling, he added: "I will ask you to convey the invitation to him."
His comments came in a relaxed, walk-and-talk style interview conducted alongside his British-born wife that appeared designed to show Assad in a warm, congenial light.
Speaking in English, Assad said that if he and Obama were to meet, it did not necessarily mean they had to agree on the issues.
"Any summit between any two presidents is something positive," he said, adding: "That doesn't mean you have to agree about everything. But when you discuss, this is how we can close the gap.
"It's normal to have differences between different cultures, between different nations and states.
"But I think the United States has a special role as the greatest power. I think President Obama should visit as many countries as he can in order to make these dialogues... And of course, that includes Syria."