U.S. dismisses Assad speech, says he must step aside to allow transition
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department dismissed a speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Sunday as a meaningless attempt to retain power in his war-torn country and urged the beleaguered strongman to step down.
Assad's speech "is yet another attempt by the regime to cling to power and does nothing to advance the Syrian people's goal of a political transition," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a statement.
"His initiative is detached from reality, undermines the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, and would only allow the regime to further perpetuate its bloody oppression of the Syrian people," she added, and repeated longstanding U.S. calls for Assad to step down. (Reporting By Paul Eckert; Editing by Sandra Maler)