The State Department called Tuesday on Syria to abide by the wishes of neighboring countries and open diplomatic relations with Lebanon.
Spokesman Sean McCormack rejected a statement by President Bashar al-Assad in Russia that he wants a dialogue with the United States but "will not take instructions" from Washington.
McCormack said Syria is under no obligation to follow U.S. instructions but should respond positively to requests from neighbors.
One such request, he said, is for Syria to open an embassy in Beirut. "That would be a signal that they have completely renounced and given up on the idea of getting back into Lebanon," McCormack said.
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