Syria rejects US criticism of presidential vote

A Syrian foreign ministry official rejected Wednesday the US State Department's criticism of the vote that won President Bashar Assad a second term, saying United States should solve its own problems in Iraq first. In the Sunday referendum in which he was the only contestant, Assad secured another seven years in office, getting 97.62 percent of the votes. The US State Department denounced the vote in unusually blunt terms, sarcastically noting Assad's "ability to have defeated exactly zero other candidates." "Clearly there was no real choice here for the Syrian people," said State Department spokesman Tom Casey. "You know, your choice is between vanilla, vanilla and vanilla and I don't think that's one that offers a variety of flavors and identities for the Syrian people to choose from." The state SANA news agency quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying that Syria's "advice" to the United States is "to stop interfering in the affairs of others and try solve the problems they brought to their country, such as the wrong war in Iraq."