Obama has created more 'despair' in Mideast: Assad

20th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

US President Barack Obama's lack of progress in delivering on his historic 2009 Cairo address had led to more despair in the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a German newspaper Monday.

"In his speech in Cairo, he sparked great hopes of peace in this region," Assad told the mass-circulation Bild daily in an interview conducted in Damascus.

"But when you raise hopes without producing results, the opposite is the effect -- it just leads to more despair," he said in comments published in German.

Obama made a landmark speech aimed at the world's 1.5 billion Muslims at Cairo University in June 2009, vowing to forge a "new beginning" for Islam and America and promising to purge years of "suspicion and discord."

He also laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, pledging to end mistrust, forge a state for Palestinians and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.

"Obama has seemed to me honest in his intentions so far, but we are looking for results, not for intentions," Assad said.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration admitted defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building, effectively signalling the end of direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The 27-nation European Union is part of the Quartet of international mediators in the Middle East -- with the United States, the United Nations and Russia -- but Assad said the bloc carried little weight.

"There is always a lot said about the European role in the Middle East ... But the EU is not a single entity, particularly politically," he told Bild.

"So when we are talking about Europe we are talking about the countries with the biggest political influence. So far only French President (Nicolas) Sarkozy has made any effort in the peace process," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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