News / USA

Kerry: US, Russia Not Going to Back off Helping Rivals in Syrian War

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meeting of the London 11
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meeting of the London 11 "Friends of Syria" meeting in Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2013.
The United States and Russia back opposing sides in Syria's civil war. But they say they are also working together to organize a transitional authority to end the fighting.

The Obama administration's decision to arm Syrian rebels heightens its differences with Russia, which continues to sell weapons to the government in Damascus.

At a Doha meeting of foreign ministers backing the rebellion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington and Moscow supporting opposing sides in this conflict does not mean they are at odds over how best to end the war.

"Neither side is going to back off helping those they’ve chosen to help. We understand that. The key is for us to use the leverage with the people that we’re helping to bring them to the table and achieve an appropriate negotiated solution, and that’s what we’re working for," he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in ParisUS Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
x
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, May 27, 2013, in Paris
Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are leading efforts to bring rivals together in Geneva for talks on a Syrian transitional authority. But while Washington says that authority means embattled President Bashar al-Assad must go, Moscow says there is no such demand.

"I haven't seen significant shifts in the Russian position. Russia has been clear for some time that they would prefer a political solution to the Syrian conflict based on their reading of the agreement reached in Geneva with the U.S," said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

Kerry said he took Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their word that they were working in good faith toward a transitional authority. But he said Russian arms for the Assad army were not helping.

"Russia, while nevertheless looking for this - ostensibly looking for this political solution, has also made it possible for Assad to join forces with the Iranians as well as with Hezbollah and wage this higher-level, higher-intensity war against his own people," said U.S. secretary of state.

President Putin said what was dangerous in Syria was arming the rebels, especially as some of those anti-Assad forces were U.S.-recognized terrorists. Where would those weapons end up, he asked, and what role would they play.

"We are concerned about a political vacuum in Syria," said President Putin, "if some decisions about a change of government are taken now. If President Assad goes today and a political vacuum emerges, who will fill it? Maybe terrorist organizations."

President Putin said he would honor existing arms contracts with Damascus, which could include advanced air-defense missiles. Kerry said there was no comparing arming the opposition with arming the government.

"The Russians will say, 'Well, others are arming the opposition.' And that is true. But the opposition has made it clear that they’re prepared to provide protections to all the people in the state of Syria. Assad, on the other hand, is waging war against most of the people in the state," he said.

U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann said Russian and Iranian support discouraged the Assad government from making concessions toward a negotiated settlement, especially with its recent military gains.

"The regime believes that President Assad must remain in power and must be able to define the terms of negotiation. And so with those conditions present, I think the possibilities for negotiation are limited," he said.

Despite what Kerry called "big distinctions here," he believed Washington can still work closely with Moscow.

"I think they have interests in stability. They have interests in not encouraging extremists to grow in their power. The Russians clearly have longer-term interests in the region," he said.

U.S. and Russian diplomats meet with U.N. officials in Geneva Tuesday on how best to start talks toward a transitional authority for Syria.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
June 23, 2013 8:27 PM
Long ago there was an announcement that prolonged civil war in Syria had resulted in financial bankruptcy of Assad regime being unable to pay for its bills and liabilities. With Mr. Putin’s regime “selling” arms to the bankrupt regime, why should poverty-stricken Russian people pay the bills of the bankrupt Assad regime? Recently Russian Academy of Sciences published results of the study about wide spread of irreversible poverty in Putin’s Russia http://www.rg.ru/2013/06/21/bednost.html. Russia under Mr. Putin also came into a dire financial state, sliding into economic recession, having zero-entrepreneurship activity, record flight of the capital from Russia, experiencing demographic crisis, scientific and technological backwardness, and undeveloped transport and logistic infrastructure.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 23, 2013 4:48 PM
The first step for peace in Syria is Russia and the US settle their differences, before they meet with Assad government and the opposition forces. Syria has become the cradle of the new cold war tactics by major powers while more than hundred thousand Syrians are killed, millions of refugees went to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and millions of the internally displaced persons suffer inside Syria.

by: Hatem Zaki from: Egypt
June 23, 2013 3:22 PM
Russia and USA play for its own interests.No one of them want the Syrian interest .Russia and USA make benefits from ongoing war.Russia sell weapons the Assad regime and US administration realize that the Civil War makes Syria and its allies weaker

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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