News / Middle East

    Biden Tells Iran to Get Serious about Talks

    US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, February 2, 2013.US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, February 2, 2013.
    x
    US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, February 2, 2013.
    US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, February 2, 2013.
    Al Pessin
    U.S. Vice president Joe Biden says the four-year-old offer of direct negotiations with Iran is still valid, if the country's top leader is ready for serious talks that are not held in secret. He also called on Iran to take a good faith approach in negotiations with the international contact group known as the P5+1.   Biden spoke at a security conference in Germany.

    Vice president Biden told the gathering of senior officials from around the world the United States is still ready for direct talks with Iran.

    “That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to," he said. "We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise.”

    Biden said the United States will not hold such talks without informing its allies.

    The vice president also called on Iran to take a more constructive approach in its talks with the international contact group of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany.

    “There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed," he said. "The ball is in the government of Iran's court. And it's well past time for Tehran to adopt a serious, good faith approach to negotiations with the P5+1.”

    Biden also pledged continuing U.S. support for Syria's opposition, and said President Bashar al-Assad is “no longer fit” to lead his country, and "he must go."

    At the same conference session, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such a condition is not acceptable, and said the agreed-upon Geneva process for Syria must be followed, including talks among all parties. He also rejected a suggestion from an audience member for the creation of a humanitarian corridor in Syria, enforced by international air power.

    “On the humanitarian corridors with close air support, no," he said. "Any use of force, any threat of the use of force will be unacceptable because the situation on the ground requires not more military assets but immediate cease-fire and immediate end of violence.”

    Lavrov indicated Russia is concerned that any United Nations authorization for military operations in Syria, even for humanitarian purposes, will result in wider involvement, which is what Russia believes happened with the U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya.

    He also said Russia would not accept any use of chemical weapons in Syria. But Lavrov said he is confident the country's chemical weapons are safe in the hands of the Assad government, and that the only danger of their use is if they come into the possession of opposition forces.

    Western nations and Israel are concerned that the weapons could either be used by the Assad forces or given to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This week, Israel bombed what it said was a chemical weapons convoy preparing to head for Lebanon, but Syria denies the claim.

    The security conference in Munich is an annual high-level event. Vice president Biden used it to renew U.S. support for its European allies, and to try to reassure them that the increased American interest in relations with Asia is not a threat to Europe, and indeed will be good for the continent. He expressed confidence that the United States and China can compete economically and disagree on some issues without becoming enemies.

    He also said that in the State of the Union speech next week, President Barack Obama will outline U.S. foreign policy priorities, including nonproliferation, fighting climate change, enhanced development initiatives, efforts to reduce trade barriers, support for democracies around the world and a push for peace in the Middle East.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JohnWV from: USA
    February 03, 2013 3:00 PM
    Israel has ICBM nukes and openly threatens Iran, actually campaigns for war against Iran. Israel, not Iran, is the warmonger. Resolution lies with lifting all sanctions and compensating Iran for damages from the $$$ billions we will no longer be giving the Jewish state. An Iran with nukes would disrupt the Jewish state's brutish pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and apartheid empire. With balanced Iran-Israel hegemony, Mideast peace may actually be possible.

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    February 03, 2013 9:00 AM
    This is a great disappointment that Russia has once again refused to address the issue of humanitarian relief corridors, to provide immediate relief to the Syrian civilians trapped in the conflict with out much, if any, humanitarian help; especially those civilians trapped on the opposition side of the conflict, which are mostly Sunni Muslims. I hope that all of humanity takes notice of the lack of concern/response of the Russians to provide relief to the suffering civilians in a very one-sided conflict. At a future time, when the people of Syria and beyond, take stock of their human loses, it should be absolutely clear and documented that Russia refused to allow for the provision of humanitarian help corridors. Once again it show that the Pres. Obama's administrations, and even the EU is trying to help ease the suffering of civilians, especially Sunni Muslims, in this deadly conflict. The Arab league should take full notice of this situation, and make it well known to its people; I am sure that the West will not give its efforts to help in this humanitarian crisis. This is a tremendous let down on the part of the Russians; they forget the suffering of the Russian people in Stalingrad WWII, much of Syria looks like the city of the Russian heroes; very sad response from the Russian gvmt.

    by: AE from: Texas
    February 02, 2013 5:58 PM
    If the US were serious about a negatiated settlement with Iran, they would offer meaningful sanctions relief. One on one talks would make no sense if the offer on the table is used aircraft tires for Iran to stop, shut and ship. Who in their right mind would accept such an offer?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.