News / Middle East

US, Russia Clash Over Syria at NATO Meeting

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) walks behind Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) at the start of a NATO-Russia foreign ministers meeting in Brussels April 23, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) walks behind Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) at the start of a NATO-Russia foreign ministers meeting in Brussels April 23, 2013.
Al Pessin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered starkly different views of the Syrian civil war Tuesday, after meeting at NATO headquarters.

The United States wants Russia to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but Russia refuses. Secretary Kerry tried to downplay the differences.

“There's a difference of opinion between Russia and the United States with respect to when or how Assad might leave. I don't think there's a difference of opinion that his leaving may either be inevitable or necessary to be able to have a solution,” Kerry said.

But Russia says the shape of a Syrian political settlement must be decided by the Syrians themselves, including President Assad. At a news conference, Foreign Minister Lavrov  accused Western nations of blocking a series of peace efforts, and said if that continues, Syria could come under the control of radical Islamists.

“Over the last months, there is a growing understanding of real threats we will all face if this status quo maintains, if all efforts to build dialogue will be hindered and blocked by the minority of the international community, which is very aggressive and very bloodthirsty,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said there is a growing feeling among Russia's allies that efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict are failing, and he called on all “international players” to bring the Syrian parties to the negotiating table.

Secretary Kerry said he and Minister Lavrov did agree to keep talking about the issue, and he indicated some new ideas are on the table.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov and I talked about a number of different ways in which one might try to figure out if you could create a reality to this diplomatic initiative. And we're both going to go back. We're going to explore those possibilities. And we're going to talk again about if any of those other avenues could conceivably be pursued,” Kerry said.

Those avenues do not include Western military intervention. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday the Syrian war could cause security problems for the region, and beyond. But he said no one is calling for NATO to play any direct role in the crisis.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Xiao Jiang from: New York
April 25, 2013 1:21 AM
Neither side is ideal, but I hate the Iranians and Russians more.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 24, 2013 1:38 PM
Assad had been moderate, but with the support of Iran and Hezbollah, no one can say so of him presently. Assad has been seriously backed by Ahmadinejad and Nassaralah in the civil, this completely erases whatever he has going for him as a moderate and a possible hub for peace in the region. The opposition on the other hand is mostly a terrorist group enlisting everything including Hamas, Taliban and al qaida. Yesterday they kidnapped two bishops - a hallmark of terrorism in the region to kidnap especially Christians. Why should anyone lend weight to any of these sides? The solution to the crisis is the only thing that is not on the table presently - foreign military intervention that will ensure a credible election when peace has been restored. Neither the Assad group nor the opposition in their present composition is sure to produce what the world is expecting to emerge of Syria at the end of the imbroglio - a credible democracy to cater for all strata of the Syrian populace. The world has come of age to allow the peace of the region to come from any of these splinter groups, worst of all the Arab League. If the UN will not handle it, then let's leave the people to sort themselves out - their own way. But be rest assured that by the time the people emerge from the Pyrrhic victory, much of the population would be hisotry.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
April 24, 2013 12:42 AM
Mr. Kerry was just thrown in into a very senior position, he needs to have very good staff, because some of the issues faced, are very difficult, complex and require lots of fundamental research, as to how they can be resolved. I do not know? if he has or not staff, but he needs to come up with ideas that bridge interest gaps between the various nations and sometime contradictory positions/interests. Tough situation.

by: Igor from: Russia
April 23, 2013 11:51 PM
Lavrov is right. To overthrow a government by foreign forces is not very diffilcult but to create a new one which represents the whole Syria is not simple. The opposition is a mixture of extremists actually led by Al-Quaeda. Only a fool would like to replace a rather moderate government with an extreme one full of terrorists.

by: State Dept from: DC, USA
April 23, 2013 8:51 PM
Dr. Hans, I think you are overestimating the size of the pool of diplomatic talent the US can choose from. Kerry is an idiot, but he reflect a distinct incompetent administration.
In Response

by: James Retired USAF from: Florida
April 24, 2013 5:06 AM
I have to agree despite Kerry's Military career, He's Like Copernicus, lacking the powder wig as Bill Maeher put it comical context, He has never had any stage presence, and Diplomacy is really Drama acting on one level while striving for a alternate goal. These current events do not afford any playing around time finding the right guy or woman, Susan Rice, Obama's got get over that, Even a Republican of Dynamic presence and wit(very important) The Russians love to laugh in common with Americans when we argue and the Chinese as well, he so droll you can't tell if he means business or he's swishy washing his way through it, They( Russians and Chinese) want engagement, fresh honest rapport admitting ones own failings, to get a conversation going, Kerry never had that, he as tepid as cold oatmeal, what was Obama thinking?

by: Dr. Hans F. from: Germany
April 23, 2013 4:57 PM
the European consensus in diplomatic circles is that Kerry is a poor diplomatic choice for Obama to have made; Kerry just does not have the intellectual depth to advance the US cause, his loyalties are confused his presentations muddled and he projects an air of incompetent imbecility. Obama should reconsider his choice without delay...

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