World News

Possible Syrian Peace Talks Pushed Back

A date for possible peace talks aimed at ending the ongoing war in Syria is being pushed back with diplomats now hoping they can take place before the end of the year.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi laid out his revised hopes Tuesday after meeting in Geneva with U.S. and Russian officials, as well as with diplomats from the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Brahimi had been hoping to bring the Syrian government and members of opposition groups to Geneva for talks later this month but said the goal is now "to have a meeting before the end of the year."

He said details still need to be worked out, adding any progress with Syria's opposition forming a credible delegation to send to the conference, "would be big step forward."

Brahimi again called the situation in Syria dire, saying the latest United Nations figures show nine million Syrians, nearly half the population, have been directly affected by the fighting either as refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs).

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he expects Syria to take part in long-proposed peace talks, despite comments from Syrian officials who say negotiations cannot take place if they require President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

On Monday, Syria's state-run SANA news agency quoted Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi as saying the government will not take part in peace talks that require President Assad to cede power.

Members of the Syrian opposition have insisted that negotiations cannot take place unless there is a clear plan for Mr. Assad's departure.

Separately Tuesday, the chief of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Syria wants its poison gas and nerve agent stockpiles destroyed outside the country.

The OPCW is the global chemical weapons watchdog charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. Director-general Ahmet Uzumcu called the Syrian proposal, "the most viable option.''

The Syrian government has until November 15 to present a plan on how it will destroy its existing stockpile of chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

Fighting in Syria also rages on. The Catholic Church confirmed that a mortar round slammed into the building in Damascus that houses the Vatican's embassy early Tuesday. A Vatican spokesman said no one was hurt though the building was damaged.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting erupted between rebel forces and the Syrian government in March 2011.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs