U.S.: Assad "detached from reality"
Assad acknowledged the enormous impact of the conflict, which the United Nations recently estimated had killed more than 60,000 people.
"Suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy in any corner of the country in the absence of security and stability," he said. "I look at the eyes of Syria's children and I don't see any happiness."
The Internet was cut in many parts of Damascus ahead of the address, apparently for security reasons.
As in previous speeches, Assad said his forces were fighting groups of "murderous criminals" and jihadi elements and denied that there was an uprising against his family's decades-long rule.
He stressed the presence of religious extremists and jihadi elements among those fighting in Syria, calling them "terrorists who carry the ideology of al Qaeda" and "servants who know nothing but the language of slaughter."
He said Syria will not take dictates from anyone -- a reference to outside powers -- and urged his countrymen to unite to save the nation.
Outlining his peace initiative, he said: "The first part of a political solution would require regional powers to stop funding and arming (the rebels), an end to terrorism and controlling the borders."
He said this would then be followed by dialogue and a national reconciliation conference and the formation of a wide representative government which would then oversee new elections, a new constitution and general amnesty.
Assad made clear his offer to hold a dialogue is not open to those whom he considers extremists or carrying out a foreign agenda, essentially eliminating anyone who has taken up arms against the regime.
"We never rejected a political solution ... but with whom should we talk? With those who have an extremist ideology, who only understand the language of terrorism?" he said. "Or should we with negotiate puppets whom the West brought?"
"We negotiate with the master, not with the slave," he said.
As in previous speeches and interviews, he clung to the view that the crisis in Syria was a foreign-backed agenda and said it was not an uprising against his rule.
"Is this a revolution and are these revolutionaries? By God, I say they are a bunch of criminals," he said.
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