News / Middle East

Kerry Mideast Talks on Syria to Include Russian Call for Involving Iran

Kerry Mideast Talks on Syria to Include Russian Call for Involving Irani
X
May 21, 2013 9:59 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East this week for talks to promote an international peace conference on Syria. As VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Russia wants Iran to be part of the process.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East this week for talks to promote an international peace conference on Syria. Russia wants Iran to be part of the process.

In this fight for control of Syria, Iran is one of the biggest backers of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.  So Russia says Iran should be part of the peace process.  

"Iran has repeatedly underlined its solidarity with the Syrian government. Iranian officials pay regular visits to Damascus.  No geopolitical bias should be an obstacle to Iran taking part in this conference," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Obama administration has in the past objected to Russia's call for Iranian involvement but says no one has yet been ruled in or out of these talks.  State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Washington understands Moscow's position on Tehran.

"We have seen the remarks of the Russians.  Again, it’s not a surprise.  They’ve expressed that publicly in the past.  And we’ll work through the participation with all parties," Psaki said.

U.S. concerns about involving Iran include how that might distract from ongoing efforts to limit Tehran's nuclear program as well as its support for Lebanon's Hezbollah, which Syrian opposition fighters say is helping Assad forces near the Lebanese border.

"The U.S. perception is that Iran tends to play the role of spoiler in these kinds of settings.  And it's trying to bring around the table parties whom the United States and Russia agree have a vested interest in finding a productive way out of the nightmare that Syria is experiencing,"  said U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann:

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem says Iran is helping defend his country. "This is an internal war, but it's also a regional and international war against the Syrian people.  We are ready to defend ourselves and will not be silent in the face of aggression," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says only a political settlement can head off broader regional conflict.

"With thanks to God, the situation in Syria is going well.  Syria's courageous military has regained much of its territory, and Syria will fully regain its strength in the near future," Salehi said.

Heydemann believes there is no way to end the fight without some kind of role for Iran.

"It doesn't mean that the U.S. needs to try to find ways to mollify Iran in addressing the Syria conflict.  But it does mean that we need to find some way to reassure Iran that its equities will at least be acknowledged as a process of negotiation unfolds," Heydemann said.

Syria's main opposition group has not committed to joining peace talks, in part, because of questions about which Assad allies - like Iran - will take part.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
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.

VOA Blogs