DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar Assad said that Hamas' victory in January's Palestinian legislative elections has "decreased pressures on Syria," as it had brought about a shift in Western political perceptions.

In a speech at the 4th General Conference of Arab Parties late on Saturday, Assad said, "I believe that Hamas' victory has decreased pressures, and will decrease pressures, on Syria."

"At least, what is being said now in the Western political discourse is that Hamas won elections ... They no longer say the terrorist Hamas," Assad said.

On Arab and foreign demands that Hamas should recognize Israel, Assad said "recognition is linked to the return of the full rights."