Moscow, RUSSIAN FEDERATION:  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a press conference in Moscow 19 December 2006. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad vowed Tuesday to cooperate in efforts to stabilise the Middle East, the Syrian leader saying he was open to dialogue with Washington but not to "instructions". AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV  (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)