Syria's Assad says he won't step down

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian President Bashar Assad says he won't step down before elections are held in his war-ravaged country.

The Syrian leader's comments, published Saturday in the Argentine newspaper Clarin, highlight the difficulties the US and Russia face in getting the Assad regime and Syria's political opposition to the table at an international conference envisioned for next month.

The country's main opposition group has demanded that these talks lead to Assad's departure.

However, Assad says such a dialogue shouldn't "decide a matter that has not been decided by the people."

Assad likened himself to a ship captain in turbulent seas, saying: "I am not someone who flees from my responsibilities."