Assad to give speech on Syria developments: Sana

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will give a speech on Sunday in which he is expected to focus on the conflict that has raged in the country for the past 21 months, the official Sana news agency said.

"President Bashar al-Assad will deliver a speech on Sunday morning on the latest developments in Syria and the region," the agency said on Saturday, without specifying the time of the address.

Mr Assad last spoke on June 3 when he addressed parliament in Damascus. The pro-Syrian Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, said in its Saturday edition that Mr Assad was ready to offer a "solution" to the deadly conflict in his speech.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said Mr Assad may submit a five-point plan that would not preclude him from contesting the next presidential election when his current term ends in 2014. The plan also provides a ceasefire, allowing international observers to monitor its application, a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution, forming a national government and holding free elections for a new parliament, it said.

During his last visit to Damascus, UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had mentioned a plan, based on the Geneva declaration, that talked of a ceasefire, forming a government and holding parliamentary and presidential polls.

The Geneva plan put forward last June would see a transitional government in place, but it does not refer to Assad going - a condition that the opposition insists on.

The Syrian authorities have not responded directly to Mr Brahimi's plan, which the envoy believes could be adopted by the international community, but have said that they are ready to respond to any plan through dialogue.