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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid