U.S. welcomes efforts to calm situation in Syria

Washington (ANTARA News) - The United States on Tuesday welcomed efforts to calm the situation in Syria, but stuck to its demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down.

"We welcome efforts by the international community to convince the Assad regime to cease the kind of violent acts that it`s been perpetrating on its own people, against the Syrian people," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

He was responding to a deal reached on Tuesday between Syria and the Arab League on ending violence in the country. Syria`s state-run TV said an official announcement will be made in the regional bloc`s headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday.

"What remains true today is that we continue to believe that Assad is illegitimate and should step down," Carney said.

The Arab League is seeking, among others, an immediate halt of violence in Syria, dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, and withdrawal of Syrian army from unrest-hit areas.

"If in fact we have a Syrian regime that is accepting that full list of things, we would consider that a first step to the direction we want to see Syria move," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Anti-government protests have continued unabated across Syria for more than seven months with mounting calls for Assad to step down, while the death toll has hit more than 3,000.

The U.S. and its European allies have imposed a set of sanctions on senior Syrian government officials and entities, and called for Assad to step down.