News / Middle East

    Ban: Syria Talks Need More Seriousness, Urgency

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives his speech during the annual Munich Security Conference, Feb. 1, 2014.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives his speech during the annual Munich Security Conference, Feb. 1, 2014.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Syria's government and its political opponents should bring greater seriousness and urgency to international efforts to end their conflict. Their first round of talks ended Friday with little progress on how to end the fighting or increase humanitarian access.

    Ban Ki-moon says the first round of Syrian talks shows that progress will be difficult and the process itself is hard-going, but at least it is a start.

    "The parties may still be fighting. But now they are also talking. This is the only hope for a political solution," he said.

    When talks resume February 10, Ban says President Bashar al-Assad's government and its opponents must both bring a new attitude.

    "They should come with more sense of honestness as well as seriousness and urgency," he said. "The negotiations must not be used as a tactic to delay the end of fighting. There is no military solution to this crisis."

    Ban and the joint special representative Lakhdar Brahimi met late Friday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the talks. They are all in Munich for an international security conference.

    Ban says he urged both the United States and Russia to use their influence to ensure that the peace process continues. Russia is an ally of the government in Damascus. The United States backs Assad opponents.

    Kerry says he is working with Lavrov to keep the Assad government engaged in the peace process.

    "There are powerful feelings for why we believe Assad needs to feel even more sense of urgency to come to the table," he said.

    Lavrov says there is much pressure on Moscow to influence Damascus. But, speaking through a interpreter, he said Russia can not accomplish anything on its own if those supporting the opposition do not do the same.

    "We are putting daily pressure on the Syrian government. It is in a very difficult situation. And to try to convince a government which is waging a war to make some gestures is a very difficult task. You know what I'm talking about," he said.

    Lavrov says the political opposition at these talks is too narrowly drawn from groups with little popular support on the ground. Speaking through a different interpreter, he said the key to success is to make the talks truly representative.

    "All those influencing the opposition should do their best for the delegations at the negotiating table to represent the whole spectrum of Syrian society," he said.

    Brahimi says there was some progress in getting humanitarian aid to the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, home to thousands of Palestinians who have been residents in Syria since before the civl war there began. However, Brahimi said there was no movement to report on efforts to get aid shipments into the city of Homs, or on a prisoner exchange between the Syrian government and rebels. "The gaps between the sides remain wide," he says, "there is no use pretending otherwise."

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JR from: São Paulo, Brazil
    February 02, 2014 2:25 PM
    For me it is clear that Assad intents to smash the oponents with no mercy, and those talkings about peace, or something like that, are only to gain time to accomplish his aim, and Russia acts to him get it.

    by: Maithe from: Paris, France
    February 01, 2014 5:40 PM
    Poor Mr Ban Ki-moon ! It's not easy being the UN Secretary-General....
    Of course everybody will agree with you: Syria talks need more seriousness and urgency. But where is THE solution ? Asking the US and Russia to "solve" the problem ?? Difficult as far as they both take sides (along with other countries).
    Syria needs action and no more talks. People are dying. Hurry up Mr Ban.


    by: MikeBarnett from: USA
    February 01, 2014 3:25 PM
    The two sides in the Syrian Civil War have been shooting and shelling each other for nearly three years. It is likely to be difficult to make each side forget the suffering that they have received during the course of the conflict. Both sides believe that they are on the "right" side in this war. The Syrian conflict has a religious element because Sunnis claim that the Shia and Alawites are unbelievers, creating another force for intransigence. The foreign fighters and the foreign supporters of both sides create another complicating set of forces. This has been the first set of meetings. There will be others.

    The US should watch, wait, and encourage continued negotiations without taking sides. The first danger of taking sides is that the US backed side could lose. The second danger of taking sides is that the US backed side could win. No national leader wants to take US "orders" and will likely make closer relationships with countries that the US opposes to prove his independence and to prevent the US from removing him at a later date.

    by: ted savage from: tennessee united states
    February 01, 2014 2:50 PM
    I understand Mr Ban and others wanting for both sides to try to get solution agreed to that will end this bloodshed. But, there will be no solution found because the first thing the rebels insist in is that the President leaves office and the first thing the government says is that him leaving is not an option. So, these talks are simply useless.

    by: joe m from: new york
    February 01, 2014 10:19 AM
    Syria s. Dictatorship will not budge an inch until Russia and Iran s. Weapons are stopped. Powder keg. Is now in place.
    In Response

    by: MAHESWAR DEKA from: ASSAM.INDIA
    February 01, 2014 11:02 PM
    Syrian regime led by Assad is ardently supported by both Russia and Iran.Russia has some economic benefits in keeping good relations with Syria.Iran' support is for religion and its own interest too. In this situation, Syria' President will not resign.On the other hand, opposition will continue their struggle unless l President Assad resigns.This is the dilemma.And the dilemma has caused enough trouble to millions off Syrians.Both Assad and the opposition have no sympathy over the plights of the common Syrian people.Only God knows when Syrian tussle will be settled

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.