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.
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 Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs