"Syria will not close the door on dialogue with the American administration, even if the hawks in that administration want to push for escalation in an unjustified way," the Syrian Information Minister, Ahmad al-Hassan, said in a statement on Thursday.

"The threats against Syria are not new, but they have intensified recently," he added.

The minister accused the US of wanting to "extend its influence to replace the United Nations."

UN role

"We will stand by our national unity… and are working so that the United Nations resumes its role to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner," he said.

The US has increasingly turned on the heat on Syria in recent months, accusing Damascus of abetting "terrorism".

On Tuesday, the US Congress voted almost unanimously for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria. The US House of Representatives had approved the sanctions earlier.

US President George Bush is expected to sign the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act into a law soon.