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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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 US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
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.

AppleAndroid