World News

    Kerry, Lavrov in 'Constructive' Talks on Syria





    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had "constructive" talks Friday on ending Syria's chemical weapons program.

    The two diplomats and the U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in Geneva to discuss a Russian plan on how to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control. The move could avert a U.S. military strike in retaliation for the Syrian regime's alleged poison-gas attack on civilians last month near Damascus.

    VOA's correspondent at the talks, Scott Stearns, reports the delegations broke into smaller groups for additional meetings late in the day. Further talks between Kerry and Lavrov are possible.

    President Obama said Friday that he is hopeful that the negotiations Kerry is having will "bear fruit." Speaking in Washington after meeting with Kuwait's leader, Mr. Obama said any agreement to destroy Syria's chemical weapons must be "verifiable and enforceable."



    Kerry says he and Lavrov have agreed to do "homework" as part of a bid to get Syria's warring factions to a conference on a transitional government.



    "We both agreed to do that homework and meet again in New York around the time of the U.N. General Assembly, around the 28th [of September], in order to see if it is possible then to find a date for that conference."



    In New York, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he expects a report from a team investigating the August 21 nerve-gas attack near Damascus will be an "overwhelming report" that shows chemical weapons were used. U.N. officials told VOA the report is expected on Monday.

    It reportedly will focus on analysis of biomedical and environmental samples the U.N. team collected from the area of the attack. The team also took statements from medical personnel and survivors.

    The team's mandate is to say only whether chemical agents were used, not who used them.

    The United States says it has confirmed that more than 1,400 people died in the gas attack, and that there is no doubt the Syrian military was responsible. The Assad government contends rebels themselves carried out the gas attack.

    Although the U.N. report is not complete, a spokesman for Mr. Ban said the secretary-general has been in touch with the team's experts.

    Syria said Thursday it will join an international ban on chemical weapons, but says it will take a month to list all of its chemical weapons stockpile. Until this week, Syria had repeatedly denied possessing any chemical weapons.

    President Bashar al-Assad has said he will only transfer his chemical-weapons arsenal to international control if the U.S. drops its threat of military action against him.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Syria's decision to join the global poison gas ban. He said Friday that the gesture shows the Syrian government's "serious intentions" about resolving the conflict.

    Mr. Ban has expressed his continuing concern about the civil war in Syria, which has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced at least six million since early 2011. The U.N. chief did not directly answer questions about whether Mr. Assad should step down, but said:



    "What happened is that he has committed many crimes against humanity and therefore I am sure that there will be, surely, the process of accountability when everything is over."



    Mr. Ban said the international community must press for a political solution and that it is time for the parties to stop fighting and start talking.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora