Assad speech 'beyond hypocritical'
Published 06/01/2013 | 19:45
Syrian President Bashar Assad's speech claiming he is ready with a new peace initiative has been denounced by William Hague as "beyond hypocritical".
The Foreign Secretary attacked the leader's rare television address as full of "empty promises" that would "fool no-one".
In his first speech to the nation since June, President Assad said the peace plan includes a national reconciliation conference and a new constitution but claimed it could only get under way after Western nations stopped funding and arming rebel groups.
He said: "We never rejected a political solution... but with whom should we talk? With those who have extremist ideology who only understand the language of terrorism?"
"Or should we with negotiate puppets whom the West brought... We negotiate with the master not with the slave."
More than 60,000 Syrians have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011, according to UN estimates.
Mr Hague took to Twitter to vent his anger about the speech, writing: "#AssadSpeech beyond hypocritical. Deaths, violence and oppression engulfing #Syria are his own making, empty promises of reform fool no one."
Prime Minister David Cameron earlier reiterated his calls for the Syrian leader to go.
"My message to Assad is go," he told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show. "He has the most phenomenal amount of blood on his hands."