(The assassin speaks. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Syria-Assad.html target=_blank>From the AP: "Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday his country will continue to challenge U.S. efforts to exert control over the Middle East, sounding a defiant tone ahead of President Bush's arrival in the region for talks on Iraq. 'Colonialism has not ended. In the past they used to call it colonialism, today it is called liberation of people. ... Names differ but the essence is the same. As colonialism continues, revolution and resistance continue.... '")
France and the United States agree there is no point in talking to Syria because the conditions for an honest dialogue do not exist, President Jacques Chirac said on Wednesday.
His comment came as President Bush is under strong domestic pressure to talk to Syria and Iran in an effort to reduce sectarian violence and avert civil war in Iraq.
Speaking after a NATO summit in Latvia, Chirac said he was always in favor of dialogue in principle provided it led to results and was based on honesty and a commitment to carry out what was agreed.
"In the current state of affairs, this is not exactly the characteristic of the dialogue which some European countries have started with Syria. I deplore that," Chirac said.
"I understand that the American president's position is exactly the same as France's," Chirac said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem accused Paris on Tuesday of trying to destabilize his country.
France took the lead with Washington last year in a United Nations resolution to force the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a close friend of Chirac.