News / Middle East

Key UN Diplomats Launch Talks on Syrian Chemical Weapons Draft

A photo taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta.
A photo taken on August 22 purports to show some of the estimated 1,000 victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta.
VOA News
Five key global diplomats launched talks Tuesday aimed at reaching consensus on a Western resolution demanding the destruction of Syria's chemical stockpile.

The talks in New York brought together envoys from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China, as delegates from nearly 190 other nations heard U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially open the 68th session of the General Assembly.

Tuesday's talks, set to extend through the week, followed the release Monday by U.N. investigators of a report confirming a deadly August 21 sarin gas attack outside the Syrian capital.  Ban said the gathered evidence "indisputably" and "overwhelmingly" confirms the use of the nerve agent on a relatively large scale.

U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders cite intelligence showing the attack killed 1,400 people in the rebel-held Damascus suburb, Ghouta.  They also alleged that troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the attack - a charge Assad denies and Russia and China dispute.

Despite weeks of contentious disagreement about the origins of the attack, Russia - a traditional Syrian ally - and Western powers have agreed to work together toward a U.N resolution on the removal of the Syrian arsenal.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the attack was likely a rebel "provocation" aimed at gaining outside military help in the push to remove Assad from power.

Lavrov's French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, speaking alongside the Russian diplomat, said the U.N. evidence "seems to leave no doubt" that Syrian forces launched the attack.

The U.N. report does not assess blame for the attack.  But Washington and its Western allies say the report's supporting evidence, including trajectory readouts on ­poison-filled rockets, clearly shows Syrian government responsibility.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid