News / Middle East

Brahimi Urges Syria's Government, Opposition to Meet at UN Offices

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is urging Syria's government and opposition to meet on U.N. premises to discuss a political solution to the two-year rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.


Speaking Sunday in Cairo, Brahimi said a U.N.-hosted dialogue between the Syrian opposition and an "acceptable" government delegation would help Syria to start emerging from what he called its "dark tunnel." He did not specify a location for such talks.


The leader of Syria's exiled opposition coalition, Mouaz al-Khatib, has said he would be willing to meet Syria's ceremonial vice president Farouk al-Sharaa to discuss a peaceful departure of the Assad government. Khatib's Syrian National Coalition also has offered to talk to other government representatives not directly involved in Mr. Assad's violent crackdown on the revolt.


Brahimi said the opposition initiative "challenges" the Syrian government to live up to its pledge to hold a national dialogue. Mr. Assad called for such a dialogue last month, but gave no details about whom he would negotiate with.


The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the importance of supporting a "viable" Syrian political process by using their respective influence on the parties in the conflict. It said Kerry and Lavrov addressed the issue during a half-hour conversation on Sunday.


The State Department said Kerry emphasized the "urgency of ending the bloodshed, preventing a further deterioration of the institutions of the state, and protecting the rights of all Syrians and helping them to resist extremism and further sectarian strife."


Washington has supported Syrian opposition calls for Mr. Assad to step down and be held accountable for alleged atrocities committed by his forces. Moscow has repeatedly rejected Western demands for the ouster of Mr. Assad, a longtime Russian ally and buyer of Russian arms.


Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Sunday the government has offered "all necessary guarantees" to make a dialogue possible and urged the Syrian people to join the process. But, he reiterated warnings that Damascus will exclude any opposition figure it perceives as "pretending" to represent the national interest while secretly supporting alleged "foreign agendas."


Opposition leader Khatib has demanded that Mr. Assad release tens of thousands of prisoners and renew the passports of Syrian exiles before any talks begin. The government has ignored those conditions.


In the latest fighting, Syrian opposition activists said pro-Assad Hezbollah militants from Lebanon attacked several rebel-held Syrian villages near the border between the two countries on Saturday. They said the fighting happened in the Qusair district of Homs province.


Syrian rebels have repeatedly accused Islamist group Hezbollah of sending fighters into Syria to support its ally, Mr. Assad. Hezbollah has not confirmed the allegations.


In other violence, Syrian activists said rebels attacked government forces at the Nairab air base near the northern city of Aleppo on Saturday and Sunday. Rebels apparently seized the Jarrah air base near Aleppo earlier this month as part of a campaign to prevent the government from using its superior air power against outgunned rebel positions. Details of the fighting could not be independently confirmed.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs