News / USA

Kerry to Mideast for Syria Talks

Kerry to Mideast for Syria Talksi
X
May 20, 2013 10:50 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels Monday to the Middle East for talks on holding a Syrian peace conference. As VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he doubts the U.S./Russian initiative can stop the fighting.

Kerry to Mideast for Syria Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels Monday to the Middle East for talks on holding a Syrian peace conference. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he doubts the U.S./Russian initiative can stop the fighting.

The latest effort to end Syrian violence aims to bring together for the first time envoys from President Assad's government and its opponents.

Though Washington and Moscow back different sides in the conflict, Secretary of State Kerry said they are united in getting to a transitional government for Syria.

"Russia and the United States share a belief that it is extremely constructive and positive that we are working together, cooperatively, in an effort to try to implement a peaceful resolution," said Kerry.

UN chief says time is short

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov must move quickly.

"We should not lose this momentum generated by Minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry," said Ban. "There is a high expectation that this meeting should be held as soon as possible."

But President Assad said there is confusion between a political solution and terrorism.

"We said from the beginning that we are prepared to talk with forces inside or outside of Syria," said Bashar.  "We do not have a problem with that, but on condition that they do not carry weapons.  You cannot carry a weapon and enter into dialogue."

President Assad said his opponents are too fragmented to negotiate.  U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann says Damascus is rejecting talks on issues central to the conflict.

"Even though they do not want to cause a rift between themselves and the Russians, they are doing everything they can to make sure that these negotiations either do not happen or that they are gamed in such a way that all of the government's issues are defining the contents of the negotiations," Heydemann said.

Assad refuses opposition demands

President Assad says he will not resign.  But that remains a core demand of the main opposition group.

"That is not a demand that the U.S. supports" said Heydemann.  "It is not a demand that the European Union supports.  But if the coalition sticks to it, it is hard to see that this negotiation framework can ever really get off the ground."

Syria's main opposition group is not meeting with Kerry on this trip to the region and has not committed to joining peace talks.

"We think that it is still too early to decide whether to attend because it is not clear what this conference is about," said George Sabra, the opposition's Syrian National Council Chairman. "Until now, there is no agenda or list of countries attending."

That is another problem as Russia says Iran should be included in the talks.  The United States has, in the past, opposed Iran's involvement, but says invitations to these talks are still being worked out with the United Nations.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid