News / USA

Syria Dominates Kerry's First Trip Abroad as Secretary of State

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his first foreign policy speech, Feb. 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his first foreign policy speech, Feb. 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his first foreign policy speech, Feb. 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers his first foreign policy speech, Feb. 20, 2013, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Sunday for Europe and the Middle East - his first trip abroad as America's top diplomat.The conflict in Syria tops Kerry's agenda.

With Syria's civil war rocking Damascus suburbs, Kerry's schedule in Europe and the Middle East includes meetings with opponents of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "He is characterizing this first trip more broadly as a listening tour, but I think he will look forward to hearing from the Syrian Opposition Coalition what more they think we can do, and also to hear from counterparts who are deeply involved in supporting the opposition."

Syria Civil War Dominates Kerry's First Foreign Tripi
X
February 21, 2013 7:59 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Sunday for Europe and the Middle East -- his first trip abroad as America's top diplomat. And as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, conflict in Syria tops Mr. Kerry's agenda.

Those European counterparts are extending their arms embargo while providing more non-lethal support for civilians.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "It will allow us now to supply a greater range of equipment to help to protect civilian life in Syria and will also enable us to give assistance and advice that we have been restricted in giving them before."

Kerry is no stranger to Syria. He recalled during his confirmation hearing how President Assad once asked for his help.

"He wanted to try to find some way to reach out to the West and see if there was some kind of accommodation. History caught up to us," Kerry said. "That never happened, and it is now moot because he has made a set of judgments that are inexcusable."

Long-time Assad ally Russia is now pushing for talks with the opposition. Kerry is scheduled to meet in Berlin with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who says the priority in Syria is dialogue.

Lavrov said the situation is changing, and it is important that the readiness of the Syrian opposition for dialogue is met by a confirmation from the government that they are also ready.

Cato Institute analyst Malou Innocent said Russia's apparent shift is bad news for President Assad. "They have recognized that the rebel movements might emerge victorious at the end of this. I think that is a stunning about-face from the Russians," he said.

Nuland said Kerry is ready to work with Lavrov to encourage all Syrians to begin a political transition. She said, "The Russians have certain kinds of influence. We have certain kinds of influence. It's really going to be up to the Syrians where they want to do this, whether they think Moscow's offer can be helpful."

Johns Hopkins University Professor Ruth Wedgwood said the civil war's pace shows Russia that President Assad can no longer keep Syria together as his father did.

"It is such a delicate balance," he said. "It is a bouillabaisse of nationalities, which was always the trump card of Assad and the Alawites, that they were the one, seemingly honest at the time, now dishonest, broker who could keep the stew from boiling over."

Kerry will meet with government officials in London, Paris, Berlin, Riyadh, Ankara, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and Doha as well as with Syrian opposition leaders in Rome.

State Department officials said earlier plans to include Jerusalem and Ramallah on this trip were dropped because of ongoing talks among Israeli politicians about forming a governing coalition.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs