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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid