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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid