World News

Kerry, Lavrov Outline Steps Syria Must Take

The United States and Russia have agreed on a framework for ending Syria's chemical weapons program that includes a requirement for Syria to submit a comprehensive list of such weapons in one week.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the plan during a joint news conference in Geneva Saturday, with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.



"We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime and we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons."



Kerry said they agreed that Syria must provide the immediate right to inspect all such weapons sites, which he says will lead to the destruction of the weapons outside of Syria.

The plan calls for the elimination or removal of all chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014.

If the plan is successful, Kerry said it could have far-reaching consequences.



"If we can join together and make this framework a success, and eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, we would not only save lives but we would reduce the threat to the region and reinforce an international standard, an international norm."



Kerry said if Syria does not comply with the plan, they could request a U.N. Security Council "Chapter 7" resolution, which authorizes punitive action.

Lavrov said the deal does not include anything about potential use of force.

The agreement on the proposal followed three days of talks between the top diplomats and U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

During the talks, U.S. and Russian officials agreed that Syria currently holds about 1,000 metric tons of chemical agents and precursors including sulfur mustard and sarin gas.

U.S. officials believe there are about 45 sites where those munitions and related equipment is stored but say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime may have moved some of those supplies.

Syrian compliance with the agreement could avert a U.S. military strike in retaliation for the Syrian government's alleged poison gas attack on civilians last month near Damascus.

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



France and Britain welcomed the deal.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called it a "significant step forward." France and the United States have been the main advocates of military strikes against Syria for the alleged chemical weapons attack.

In a Saturday statement, Fabius said he, Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague would discuss details of the plan during talks in Paris on Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the plan and said he hoped it would lead to efforts to end the "appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people."

Germany offered a more cautious response. The French News Agency says Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said if "words are followed by actions," then chances for a political solution in Syria will increase.

However, the opposition Free Syrian Army rejected the plan. In Turkey, General Selim Idriss said the group did not trust Lavrov or Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the group would continue the fight against Syrian President Assad's government.

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 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.

Kerry will travel to Israel Sunday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then to Paris for talks Monday with the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

##

(two Kerry cuts)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs