WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department dismissed a speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday as lacking substance, saying it was easier to see conspiracy theories than to meet popular demand for reforms.

In the speech, Assad defied calls to lift a decades-old emergency law and said Syria was the target of a foreign conspiracy to stir up protests in which more than 60 people have been killed.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said it for the Syrian people to judge the speech but he broadly dismissed it, including Assad's assertion that Syria was subject "to a big conspiracy, whose threads extend from countries near and far."

"It's far too easy to look for conspiracy theories (than to) respond in a meaningful way to the call for reform," Toner told reporters in his daily briefing.

"We expect they (the Syrian people) are going to be disappointed. We feel the speech fell short with respect to the kind of reforms that the Syrian people demanded and what President Assad's own advisers suggested was coming," he said.

"It's clear to us that it didn't really have much substance to it and didn't talk about specific reforms, as was ... suggested in the run up to the speech," he said.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)