Syrians do not believe that London can play a role in resolvingthe conflict unless their rhetoric changes, Assad said in aninterview with The Sunday Times, adding that one “cannotseparate the role from the credibility, and you cannot separate thecredibility from the history of that country.”“Britain has played famously – in our region – anunconstructive role in different issues for decades, some say forcenturies,” the president told the newspaper.“The problem with this government is that their shallow andimmature rhetoric only highlights this tradition of bullying andhegemony,” he said.Britain is determined to militarize the problem not even tryingto facilitate a dialogue between Syrians, Assad claimed.Overall, Assad described his assessment of London’s role in theconflict as “working against the interests of the UKitself,” not only the interests of Syria and its people.The Syrian leader reiterated he was open for talks with theopposition but said he would not step down unless the Syrian peopledecided so during next year’s presidential elections.‘Encouraging’ shift in policyThis week’s Friends of Syria meeting brought a serious shift ofinternational policy towards supplying and arming the Syrianrebels.Speaking at a meeting in Rome on Thursday, UK foreign ministerWilliam Hague stressed he has not ruled out the possibility ofdirect military aid in the future. “That will be an importantdecision, of course, and has its own risks, and that is why wehaven’t done that so far,” he said.US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Washington wouldprovide “non-lethal” aid directly to the armed Syrianrebels. In addition the US has pledged another $60 millionfinancial assistance to the country’s political opposition.The European Union meanwhile has formally amended its sanctionsagainst Syria to permit the supply of “non-combat” armoredvehicles, military equipment, and technical aid to the opposition,provided they are intended to protect civilians.The shift in policy has drawn harsh criticism from the foreignministers of Syria and Iran. The counterparts met on Saturday,condemning the decision to help the “terrorists spilling theblood of Syrians and demolishing the financial infrastructure ofSyria.”Syria’s FM Walid al-Moallem directly accused Turkey and Qatar,as well as several other countries he did not name, of supportingand funding armed terrorist groups in Syria.Russia meanwhile said that decisions made at the Friends ofSyria meeting will intensify the two-year Syrian conflict byencouraging rebel extremists. The moves announced “in spirit andin letter directly encourage extremists to seize power by force,despite the inevitable sufferings of ordinary Syrians thatentails,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson AlexanderLukashevich said in a statement, echoing Russia’s official stancethat dialogue is the only possible way forward.