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U.S. Says Assad's Speech Short On Reforms


President Bashar al-Assad addresses parliament in Damascus on March 30.

President Bashar al-Assad addresses parliament in Damascus on March 30.

The United States has sharply criticized Syria's President Bashar al-Assad for failing to address any of the reforms demanded by antigovernment protesters.

"We feel the speech fell short with respect to the kinds of reform that the Syrian people demanded and what President Assad's own advisers suggested was coming," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

In his much anticipated speech to parliament on March 30, Assad blamed two weeks of unprecedented protests against his government on "enemies" of the country.

And he did not announce a lifting of the state of emergency, as some had predicted.

Hours later, there were reports of protests and gunfire in the port city of Latakia.

Two senior U.S. lawmakers -- Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman -- have urged President Barack Obama to support the opposition to Assad's rule.

compiled from agency reports
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