The United States said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's plan for a national reconciliation conference is "detached from reality" and is an attempt to "cling to power."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in statement following a rare speech by Assad Sunday that the Syrian leader has lost legitimacy. She repeated calls for him to step down, saying he is proposing dialogue while his government is "deliberately stoking sectarian tensions" and killing its own people.
Demonstrators hold banners during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, after Friday prayers in Kafranbel, near Idlib, Syria, January 11, 2013 in this picture provided by Shaam News Network.
A Free Syrian Army fighter uses binoculars near the Menagh military airport, in Aleppo's countryside, Syria, January 10, 2013.
A damaged car and buildings covered with snow are seen in the Jouret al Shayah area of Homs, Syria, January 10, 2013.
Residents evacuate their houses after being targeted by missiles fired by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 9, 2013.
Children sit next to a fire in Aleppo city, Syria, January 9, 2013.
Civilians and Free Syrian Army fighters gather at a site hit by a missile in Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 7, 2013.
People help a wounded person after a missile hit Aleppo's al-Mashhad district, Syria, January 7, 2013.
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waving to his supporters after speaking at the Opera House in central Damascus, Syria, January 6, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters, wounded during the battle to capture Taftanaz air base, receive treatment at a field hospital in northern Idlib, Syria, January 6, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds a cat in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 6, 2013.
A man rides his bicycle past buildings damaged by shelling in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 6, 2013.
A family crosses a street piled with garbage in Aleppo, Syria, January 5, 2013.
In his first public speech since June, Assad called for a political solution to the country's conflict. He told loyalists at the Damascus Opera House that Syria is at war with its "enemies," but denied the existence of a popular revolution.
He demanded Western and regional powers stop funding and arming Syrian rebels, repeating his longstanding description of the fighters as al-Qaida terrorists seeking to tear apart the country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Assad has not understood the demands of the people or his own responsibility for what has happened in Syria.
"That he bears no responsibility at all... He is making the wrong deductions. He is making wrong deductions about the historical process that is happening and continues to happen in Syria," said Davutoglu."That means he is boxed up in a room and only reads intelligence reports that were given to him with the aim of gaining his favor."
Davutoglu also said Assad "does not have a plan for the future" and cannot make progress by denying the existence of the Syrian opposition.
Opposition coalition members repeated their demand for Assad to leave power as a condition for talks. They have long dismissed his offers of political concessions as too little, too late.
In his speech, Assad described the opposition as a Western puppet. He also lamented the destruction caused by the civil war, saying there is "no joy while security and stability are absent" on Syrian streets.
His loyalist audience frequently interrupted him with chants of "with our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you" and mobbed him as he left the stage.
The United Nations has estimated that at least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, when President Assad began suppressing what started as peaceful pro-democracy protests. The protests evolved into an armed rebellion aimed at ending the Assad family's four-decade authoritarian rule.