BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s information minister has slammed the international community for rejecting a proposal by President Bashar Assad aimed at ending the country’s civil war.

Omran al-Zoubi says countries like the United States and its Western allies, who have called on Assad to step down since the uprising against his rule began in March 2011, have dismissed Assad’s initiative “before even having the time to translate it.”

Al-Zoubani was speaking in Damascus late Tuesday after an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the proposal.

In a rare speech Sunday, Assad outlined his vision for ending almost two years of bloodshed with a plan that would keep him in power. He called for dialogue, but only with those “who have not betrayed Syria.”

He spoke to a packed hall at the Opera House in central Damascus, and the audience frequently often broke out in cheers and applause. Wearing a suit and tie, the president spoke before a collage of pictures of what appeared to be Syrians who have been killed since March 2011.

“We are in a state of war. We are fighting an external aggression that is more dangerous than any others, because they use us to kill each other,” he said.

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.”

The opposition rejected the offer, which also drew harsh international criticism.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.