News

    UN's Annan Leaves Syria Empty-Handed

    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.
    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.

    U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has left Damascus without securing a deal to end Syria's nearly yearlong conflict. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's troops continued to pound opposition areas, clashing with rebels throughout the country.

    The former U.N. secretary-general said Sunday he left several proposals with Syrian officials and that he remains "optimistic" about the possibility of a resolution after a second round of talks with Mr. Assad. But he said ending the violence will be "tough."

    Annan said he called for an immediate halt to the killings and that he urged the Syrian government to "embrace change and reform" as part of a political solution to its deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising. He appealed to Mr. Assad to heed an old African proverb that says: "You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail."

    Syrian state media said Mr. Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country. Identical comments were reported after the two met Saturday.

    Syria's main exiled opposition group also rejected talks with the government. The Syrian National Council said negotiations can never take place between a "victim and torturer," and it demanded that Mr. Assad and his aides step down before a dialogue can begin.

    Annan flew to Qatar Sunday to meet that country's emir, a leading critic of the Syrian government who has called for arming the rebels.

    As their talks took place in Damascus, Syria's military continued an offensive on rebel strongholds in the north. Activists reported that several areas were attacked, including in and around Idlib, Hama and Homs, as well as Daraa in the south.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting Sunday killed at least 25 civilians and five soldiers. Activists said at least 90 people were killed in nationwide unrest a day earlier, many of them in Idlib.

    Also Sunday, Syria's state news agency said gunmen killed local boxing champion Gheyath Tayfour in the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition fighters associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for some of the assassinations that have become more frequent in the city, including those of prominent businessmen they say support Mr. Assad.

    Photo Gallery

    International rifts have paralyzed action on Syria. Russia and China blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Syrian crisis in recent months, saying they were biased against the Assad government.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in New York Monday when the Security Council holds a special meeting on Arab revolts, with Syria likely to be in focus. Washington is pressing the Council to adopt a resolution calling on Syria to let aid workers reach civilians affected by the government crackdown.

    The United Nations says Mr. Assad's forces have killed more than 7,500 people since the crackdown on protesters and insurgents began last year. Authorities say rebels have killed 2,000 soldiers during that time.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Power
    March 13, 2012 3:10 AM
    Control of the Army enables absolute power over the civillian population. Old African proverbs are of little meaning or consequence
    and the loss of life is indicative of this. Reform is not on the agenda.

    by: Godwin
    March 12, 2012 1:31 AM
    What did he intend to achieve before? With the support of Russia, China and Iran, Assad is on top of the world. Living in the colony of vampires which the Middle East is, supported by the blood thirsty trio of Russia, China and Iran - all of which know no other way to suppress decent except by brutal force, Annan's trip was mission impossible. But the trio provide the world an alternative to true democracy - LETHAL DEMOCRACY based on survival of the fittest.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora