World News

Diplomats, Syrian Opposition Discuss Proposed Peace Conference

New efforts to organize peace talks aimed at ending the war in Syria are underway in London, but diplomats say obstacles remain.



Officials from 11 nations known as the Friends of Syria have been meeting with members of the Syrian opposition. The group includes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who says the only way to end the war, and the humanitarian crisis, is a negotiated settlement.

But opposition groups like the Syrian National Coalition continue to express reservations. Coalition spokesman Khalid Saleh spoke from the group's offices in Istanbul as the London talks got underway.



"We believe that there is a very important element that is missing from the Geneva Communique, it is very silent on the issue of what's going to happen to Bashar Assad during the transitional period, what's going to happen to him in a future Syria. We have made it very clear: in order for us to have peace and stability, law and order in Syria, the person who is responsible for killing over 120,000 Syrians can not have place in a transitional government, can not have any place in a future political process in Syria."



Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also cast doubts on possible peace talks in an interview that aired on Monday night on Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen TV.



"There is no date or factors that will help for it (the conference) to be held. Who are the groups that will participate in Geneva? What is their relationship with the Syrian people? Do they represent the Syrian people? Do they represent the country that made them?"



During meetings in Paris Monday with Qatari and Saudi officials, Secretary of State Kerry warned there can be no peaceful solution as long as Mr. Assad remains in power.



Kerry also criticized the Syrian president for suggesting he will run again in 2014.



"Now I don't know anyone who believes the opposition will ever consent to Bashar al-Assad being part of that [transitional] government. And if he [Bashar al-Assad] thinks he's going to solve problems by running for re-election I can say to him, I think with certainty, this war will not end as long as that's the case or he [Assad] is there."



Kerry has been working with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to try to arrange peace talks in Geneva by the end of next month.

Opposition leaders have threatened to boycott the proposed conference unless Mr. Assad agrees to step down.

Tuesday's meeting in London brings together officials from Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

The fighting in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions from their homes since March 2011.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs