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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs