Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - President Bush is unlikely to achieve Middle East peace before he leaves office next year because the U.S. will be caught up in the presidential election process, Syrian President Bashar al Assad said on Wednesday.
Assad's comments were published in the Austrian daily Die Presse on Wednesday and picked up by the English-language Albawaba Web site as President Bush landed in Israel on the first leg of his Middle East tour.
"It is perhaps too late to talk about peace in the last year of this U.S. administration. It will be preoccupied with elections," Assad was quoted as saying.
"Annapolis was a one-day event. It will all depend on follow-up efforts. We have to be optimistic, although cautious," Assad said in reference to the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in November.
The Syrian government daily Tishrin voiced an even stronger criticism of the president.
Bush is carrying "rotten produce in his pocket to market in the region and [comes] with some chaotic ideas in mind to further support Israel, undermine the Arab forces of resistance, antagonize Arab-Iran relations and justify U.S.-Zionist [Israeli] hegemony," the paper said in an editorial, according to the Associated Press.
The paper said it was unlikely that Bush would "achieve any tangible results" on his trip that would "whiten the U.S. Administration's black image."
The best he could do, the paper said, is to reach a "deal that can satisfy his arrogance and Israeli greed, as well as continue the policy of intimidation and accusations."
In a surprise move, Syria sent a representative to the November conference. Some analysts described it as a trial balloon for improving U.S.-Syrian relations.
Bush has said that he hopes Israel and the Palestinians will achieve a peace agreement by the end of this year -- around the time his second term runs out. His trip is intended to energize the revived negotiations between the two sides.
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