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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs