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.

    There was no immediate reaction from Syria.

    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.

    U.S. President Barack Obama says the international community expects the Syrian government to "live up to its commitments." In a Saturday statement, the president said "if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act."

    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, General Selim Idriss of the opposition Free Syrian Army said the group rejects the plan.



    " We don't recognize the Russian initiative and we think the Russians and the Syrian regime are playing games to waste time and to win time for the criminal regime in Damascus."



    He said the group would continue its fight against Mr. 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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora