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State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called Mr. Assad’s latest plan “detached from reality” and would only allow the regime to continue its oppression of the Syrian people.

In a rare public speech Sunday, Mr. Assad outlined a new peace initiative that includes a national reconciliation conference and a new constitution. He ignored international demands to step down and pledged to continue the nearly two-year fight against rebels challenging his authoritarian rule.

Ms. Nuland said Mr. Assad has lost all legitimacy and should step aside to allow for a democratic transition that satisfies Syria’s people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports