World News

Kerry Outlines Steps Syria Must Take

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. and Russia have agreed on steps Syria must take to verify it is getting rid of its weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

After a third day of talks Saturday in Geneva between Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the top U.S. diplomat said the two countries agreed that Syria must submit a comprehensive list of such weapons in one week.

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

The two diplomats and U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi have been discussing for three days 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 government's alleged poison-gas attack on civilians last month near Damascus.

Meanwhile, Obama administration officials said Friday that the president will not insist on a threat of military action against Syria in any U.N. Security Council resolution. The decision likely is based on the knowledge that Russia would veto any such threat in a resolution. However, officials say President Barack Obama reserves the right to go ahead with strikes against Syria without U.N. backing.

The president said in his weekly Saturday address that "any agreement needs to verify that the Assad regime and Russia are keeping their commitments." He said "that means working to turn Syria's chemical weapons over to international control and ultimately destroying them." Mr. Obama said if diplomacy fails, the U.S. and the international community "must remain prepared to act."



The president said the U.S. will "maintain its military posture in the region to keep the pressue on the Assad regime."

In New York, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Friday he expects a report from a team investigating the August 21 nerve-gas attack will be an "overwhelming report" that shows chemical weapons were used. The team's mandate in the report expected to be released Monday is to say only whether chemical agents were used, not who used them.

In another development, U.N. investigators said Friday that Syrian government forces were systematically shelling hospitals in rebel-controlled areas to stop the sick and wounded from getting medical treatment. The investigators said the tactic was being used as a "weapon of war."



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.

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."



"I repeated what I've said publicly, which is any agreement needs to 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."



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.

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.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon 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.



"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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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 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.

VOA Blogs