Syria and Iran defended their strong ties Thursday and dismissed U.S. efforts to break up the 30-year-alliance, saying America should not dictate relationships in the Middle East. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, vowed increased cooperation during a meeting in Damascus and canceled visa restrictions between the countries. "We hope that others don't give us lessons about our region and our history," Assad told reporters when asked about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's comments this week that the U.S. is troubled by Syria's relationship from Iran. "We are the ones who decide how matters will go and we know our interests. We thank them for their advice."