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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora