BERLIN -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told the media that Syrian people "want to make peace with Israel", instead of striving to "wipe the Jewish nation off the map."

In an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel magazine released on Monday, Assad said that Syria welcomed the U.S. intervention in the Middle East, but Washington must "listen to" the aspirations of the people in the region.

He added that only when Washington took into account the interests of individual nations in the Middle East could positive changes be witnessed in the region.

Calling for "peace with Israel," Assad said he did not hold the same views on the nation as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although the two countries maintained close ties.

Concerning the war on terror, Assad said that the United States had not latched on to the essentials in the fight against terrorism, comparing its approach to the problem to that of a doctor hacking away at a tumor instead of eradicating it surgically.

Syria was also a victim of the ever-growing terrorism problem, but the United States would not "cooperate with us," he added.