News / Middle East

Kerry Travels to Turkey for Syrian Opposition Meeting

Kerry Travels to Turkey for Syrian Opposition Meetingi
X
April 19, 2013 11:55 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Turkey Saturday for a meeting of foreign ministers who back opposition groups fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.
Kerry Travels to Turkey for Syrian Opposition Meeting
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Turkey Saturday for a meeting of foreign ministers who back opposition groups fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The issue of refugees will be high on the meeting's agenda as Syrian government attacks continue to drive people across the border into Jordan.

"You can imagine the destabilizing impact and the problem for the Jordanians, who have other issues and challenges economically. So this is a big deal," said Kerry.

It is one of the challenges foreign ministers will address at the next round of talks with Syrian opposition leaders in Istanbul.

"We need a lot of assistance. We need military help. We need humanitarian help. We need all sorts of help to get on the ground and get started in serving the Syrian people," said opposition Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says countries such as the United States that support the opposition are only making things worse.

"In any conflict, if there's a mechanism that isolates one of the sides of the conflict or is aimed at isolating one of the sides then we just lose an opportunity for a dialogue or any solution to be found," he said.

U.S. Institute for Peace analyst Steve Heydemann says Washington is coming to realize that its former approach to the conflict has failed.

"Under the old policy," he said, "we could not even provide training to brigade commanders in international humanitarian law in the hope that they would develop some tools for preventing the fighters under their command from doing things like torturing prisoners or executing prisoners. I think it it helpful if we can provide that kind of training."

Secretary Kerry says more direct U.S. assistance to rebels is meant to push a negotiated settlement and prevent the implosion of the Syrian state.

"The best shot at preventing it is to try to get to the negotiating table to get the Geneva communique implemented so that you can save the institutions of the state, not wind up with an enclave state with huge instability and problems with extremist groups that have grown stronger as a result of this conflict," said Kerry.

But so far the United States has not provided weapons to the opposition.

"There continues to be an enormous degree of reluctance to get into the business of arming rebel groups on the ground in Syria. There continues to be concern that we have little control over who those weapons might go to," explained U.S. Institute for Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

U.S. allies Britain and France favor arming the rebels, with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius saying that would show Assad that he cannot win.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez 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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs