News / Middle East

Kerry Offers Calibrated Praise for Syria's Chemical Disarmament

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Bali, Oct. 7, 2013.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Bali, Oct. 7, 2013.
Kate Lamb
US Secretary of State John Kerry has applauded Syria for its initial progress in destroying its chemical weapons. Offering some rare praise for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Kerry said he would continue to urge the country to live up to its commitment to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.
 
Speaking on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was determined to see Syria fulfill its promise to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.
 
Kerry applauded the Syrian government for complying with the United Nations’ Security Council resolution, which calls for the country to abandon its chemical arsenal.
 
  • Men search for casualties inside a damaged car after what activists say was an air strike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hammouriyeh, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Smoke rises from a mortar shell impact during heavy fighting between opposition fighters and the Syrian army at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Opposition fighters prepare for battle during an attack on the Wadi al-Deef military post at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Opposition fighters prepare mortars during an attack in the Wadi al-Deef military post at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • A U.N. vehicle transporting a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons returns to a hotel in Damascus, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Workers prepare food for distribution to residents and those displaced in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Residents carry buckets as wait for their turn to receive free meals from a soup kitchen in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he peeks out from a damaged shop in Deir al-Zor, Oct. 6, 2013.
  • Mohammed al-Karaz, a Free Syrian Army fighter who said he lost one of his legs during the recent violence, uses his crutches to walk through a damaged street in the al-Soukhour neighborhood of Aleppo, Oct 5, 2013.

Describing the progress as a win for multilateral efforts to accomplish a common goal, Kerry was also careful to offer calibrated praise.
 
"I think it's also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly as they are supposed to. Now we hope that will continue. I'm not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road, but it's a good beginning. And we should welcome a good beginning," said Kerry.
 
Taking the place of U.S. President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific economic forum, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met to discuss Syria and Iran.
 
The pair met a day after international monitors began the process of destroying Syria’s 1,000-ton stockpile of chemical weapons.
 
Foreign Minister Lavrov said Russia would do everything it could to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons were destroyed by mid-2014, as stipulated in the U.N. resolution, and that Damascus follow the agreement without any changes.
 
Renewed calls for peace conference

Kerry said the two leaders would continue to push Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. peace envoy for Syria, to commit to a date for a Syria peace conference.
 
"But we also agreed that we will meet with Lakhdar Brahimi, and we will urge that the specific date be set within the framework that the envoy has already set, which is somewhere in the second week of November or so. We will urge a date to be set as soon as possible," said Kerry.
 
The U.N. says it is likely to host the meeting in Geneva this November, but the talks have repeatedly been delayed.
 
After the meeting with his Russian counterpart Kerry said progress had also been made in respect to talks about Iran’s nuclear program.
 
"The foreign minister and I did discuss Iran. And we discussed also the discussion that is underway between the United States and Russia on the subject of missile defense. And I think we're in a place now where the next step in that discussion can take place regardless of what happens with respect to Iran," said Kerry.
 
In an apparent effort to end crippling economic sanctions, newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he is willing to negotiate regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
 
The next round of talks between Iran and U.N. permanent Security Council member countries, plus Germany, will be held in Geneva in mid-October.
 
In addition to talks on Syria and Iran, Kerry and Lavrov also signed an agreement on a nuclear threat reduction program. The development builds on an agreement first signed in 1987.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More