News / Europe

Kerry Issues Blunt Warnings to Syria, Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) hold a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague following their meeting in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) hold a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague following their meeting in London, Feb. 25, 2013.
Al Pessin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has sent a stern warning to both Iran and Syria, telling the governments of both countries they will have to embrace change or suffer the consequences.

Kerry spoke Monday during a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, the first stop of his first foreign trip as U.S. secretary of state.

Kerry called on Iran to negotiate in good faith at talks with the international contact group starting Tuesday, saying time is running out for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program.  

“The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot, by definition, remain open forever. But it is open today," he said. "It is open now and there is still time. But there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith.”

Iranian nuclear program

Iranian negotiators will sit down Tuesday with diplomats from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany in Kazakhstan.  

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but many nations around the world are concerned it is actually aimed at building an arsenal of nuclear bombs.

"An Iran with a nuclear weapon, in that region, and given all that has happened, is simply unacceptable," Kerry said. "And we have stated that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Kerry said the United States goes to this week’s talks prepared to work in “good faith” and “mutual respect” in order to avoid what he called “whatever terrible consequences could follow failure” of the talks.

Syrian negotiations

Kerry condemns Syria

As for Syria, Kerry rejected the latest Syrian government call for negotiations with the opposition, saying the bombing of civilian areas in recent days in the commercial city Aleppo makes it hard to take the offer seriously.  

“It is pretty hard to understand how, when you see these Scuds falling on the innocent people of Aleppo, it is impossible to take their notion that they are ready to have a dialogue very seriously,” he said.

In recent weeks, both Syria’s government and the opposition have suggested they are ready for talks to end the war, in stark contrast to previous statements.

Speaking alongside Kerry, Britain's Hague called for increased support for Syria's opposition, saying that "our policy cannot be static" in the face of the violence. Hague said that in the coming weeks Britain would be pushing for a new package of assistance to support the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The comments come as the coalition is considering boycotting the next Friends of Syria meeting in Rome on Thursday because it says the international community is not doing enough to end the violence. The Syrians are concerned the meeting will produce more talk, but no more action to help them in their fight against the Assad regime.  

Kerry urged them to attend nonetheless.

“We are not coming to Rome simply to talk," he said. "We are coming to Rome to make a decision about next steps, and perhaps even other options that may or may not be discussed further after that. We understand that the Syrian people want to see results from this conference.”

Russia's role

In Moscow, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the Syrian government is open to dialogue with those who want to take part.

"We are ready for dialogue with everyone who wants it...even with those who have weapons in their hands," Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying. "We believe that reforms will not come through bloodshed but only through dialogue.”

Moallem reportedly made the comment before meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The head of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, told reporters in Cairo, however, that he wants to hear clearly from the government. He said the opposition grouping has not yet communicated with the Syrian government and is waiting to do so to see what will happen. Al-Khatib also said opposition visits to the United States and Russia are being delayed.

Jessica Golloher contributed to this report from Moscow and Naomi Martig from Washington.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sseruwu Alex John from: Kampala
March 01, 2013 1:21 PM
Kerry's tough talk is a mere rhetoric and intimidation to Iran and allies, military confrontation by US and allies isn't a solution either, it is only diplomacy, diplomacy and only diplomacy that can win over Iran and other anti Americans. Let US understand why Iran is interested in the nuke weapons, then use that as a yard stick to persuade them to abandon the program by offering an alternative incentive. Military aggression on Iran will automatically speed up US's road to absolute collapse and a total change of the world order as the capitalist US and allies haven't healed yet from economic death row point.

by: Richard from: China
February 25, 2013 9:45 PM
Take care of your own business. Okay?

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
February 25, 2013 8:04 PM
We applaud Secretary Kerry for a strong voice and a bold stand,we need people like Secretary Kerry in power to put things in place. Who is Iran to rub shoulder with the world super power?what kind of mess is this?America is the best,and America is the greatest.If Iran doesn't negotiate with the US ,she should pay hard price.ENOUGH IS REALLY ENOUGH. How Iran nuclear program is for peaceful proposes when she said Israel should be wipe of the map?Ahmadinejad primary motive is to destroy a whole nation,and we as a good people need to stop this nonsense.finally we have a man for the hour,Secretary Kerry is the man for the job,God Bless America

by: Paul Felix Schott from: United States of America
February 25, 2013 5:51 PM
John Kerry that is SCARY giving more time to any one that is building weapons for war, and has been for the last 25+ years.

Even more Scary that they have been giving them to Terrorist Groups for a long time and the USA is letting them do it, and as all in obama's team all you can say is you have more time. Were are the Leaders that stand for what is right and good for all mankind. This Nation needs Leaders that stand United for the good of all not the wicked holding leaders like a dog on a leash.
United We Stand In GOD We Trust
True Patriotic Americans
The Lord's Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott

by: Arash Kamaangir from: New York
February 25, 2013 4:27 PM
I am puzzled as to why Mr. Kerry doesn’t mention the amount of nuke Israel has. Don’t you people realize that if that issue is resolve, we can deal better with Iran and the rest of the world since the whole world sees this as very unfair game. In today’s world, the young generation would not accept any thing that smells "bias.".

Even if the new leaders in Iran accept a deal without addressing Israel's arsenal, the next generation will find something to fight back and I am afraid with the way technology is going, the next generation would find easy access to devastating means to have their revenge. Let's talk with reason and avoid any bully tactic since it doesn’t work in today's world. The age of wild west is gone.

by: edmays from: Brick Nj
February 25, 2013 2:54 PM
Finally some strong talk instead of the usual nambly pambly oatmeal we get.

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
February 25, 2013 1:40 PM
Well spoken Mr Kerry. The days of the fox are over and it is now the day of the lions (Read Pareto 'the lions and the foxes') The old world order is gone. The new world order now looks to America for leadership.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs