DAMASCUS, SEPT. 19 -- Following are excerpts from Syrian President Hafez Assad's interview with The Washington Post:

Q: What is your perspective on U.S. assertions that Syria's closing of the Abu Nidal offices led to the return of the U.S. ambassador?

A: It is wrong to portray the action taken with regard to the presence of the Abu Nidal group as if it were taken under the influence of a foreign power because the actions taken were for reasons belonging to us in Syria. And if there were another reason it would mean handing over to a foreign power Syria's policy, and this will never happen. {Assad said his answer was} in order to respond to certain things I have read in the American media trying to leave the impression that the action taken was under American pressure or {pressure} from Europe. . . . Our conclusion is that it is Israel which stands behind all of this. . . . There is no serious and direct reason that would have caused the deterioration in relations between our two countries.

Q: How then do you view the return of the American ambassador?

A: When I met the U.S. ambassador when he came back, I said to him, "They have punished you by calling you back to Washington." I cannot speak for the intention of the U.S. administration, but I guess the ambassador will promote the dialogue. . . . Naturally, we look at this in a positive way.

Q: On the Syrian intervention to win the release of hostages in Lebanon, including Charles Glass and others: Can you hope to win the release of the additional hostages still being held?

A: Regardless of any consideration, we approach the subject of the hostages as a human issue. Therefore we exerted big efforts in order to help, and we have succeeded more than once. . . . We achieved this success despite the fact that the general political climate was not helpful. . . . The difficulty was caused not only by the kidnapers but also by political circumstances. As in the past, we will continue to make every possible effort to help these hostages, and we understand their suffering.

Q: Do you have any hope or good news about the release of further hostages?

A: When we talk about efforts made, we are talking about hope. If there is no hope, then there is no reason to make the effort.

Q: Since the violence in Mecca, there has been increasing pressure in the Arab world, especially from Saudi Arabia, to break relations with Iran. How does Syria respond to this pressure?

A: In any case, relations between Syria and Iran are good. {Later in the interview, Assad told his interpreter to amend his statement to say relations between Syria and Iran are cordial.} If there is any subject between us and Iran, it can be discussed. . . . One can say that there are different opinions in the Arab world regarding attitudes toward Iran. That was the case even before the incident in Mecca. But most Arabs want friendly relations with Iran. After Mecca, some Arabs wanted to change relations with Iran, and some changes were discussed. . . . I don't think there will be any other measures or any other changes regarding relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia is not pressing for a break in relations {with Iran}. . . . It is against the interests of the Arabs to break relations with Iran. Israel will be the only beneficiary if such a step is taken, and we don't want to offer any such service.

Q: The mission of U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar seems to have failed to win a cease-fire in the gulf war. What do you see as a next step?

A: No doubt, complications have increased by the presence of the {foreign} fleets in the gulf. Our experience suggests it is possible to reach results with Iran through friendly dialogue, and it is not possible to reach any results through the use of power or pressures.

Q: Could the United States carry on a dialogue with Iran, and could Syria help?

A: It is really difficult to answer this question because the United States is a big power, and she herself can find the various ways and means she thinks are proper and suitable to achieve her aims. In addition, any policy followed in this connection would be more fruitful than the policy of sending the fleets.

Q: The Soviet Union, under Mikhail Gorbachev, is pursuing new policies in the Middle East with a stress on political solutions to the region's problems. {Since the Soviet Union is Syria's main arms supplier,} how does this affect Syria's goal of achieving strategic parity with Israel?

A: Strategic parity should be achieved, and there is no change or rethinking of our attitude in this regard. Any country that desires a just peace in this region should view the strategic parity that we are seeking as a fundamental positive factor in achieving peace. It is difficult to see that Israel would respond to the requirement of a just peace while it is feeling superior.

Q: Did you meet with {Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein last April after your return from the Soviet Union, and did Soviet officials encourage this meeting?

A: The Soviet Union and Arab countries have always encouraged a meeting between Syria and Iraq. We have met more than once, . . . but our points of view are not the same on many subjects, and so we remained where we were.

Q: Could the same be said of your meeting in April?

A: Yes.

Q: What were your hopes for the meeting, and why did it produce so little?

A: I didn't say it produced much or little. I only said that each had his own view on Arab and international matters.

Q: Will there be future meetings between you and Saddam?

A: This is not suggested now.