News / Middle East

Brahimi: Delay on International Syria Conference

UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attends a press conference June 25, 2013 in Geneva
UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attends a press conference June 25, 2013 in Geneva
Selah Hennessy
It is unlikely that a Syrian peace conference will take place in July as planned, according to United Nations special representative Lakhdar Brahimi.  

Russia and the United States agreed in early May to convene an international conference aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to Syria’s conflict.

Earlier this month delegates from Russia and the United States, along with Brahimi, had a first meeting aimed at preparing the way for that conference, which they said would “hopefully” take place in July.

But speaking to reporters Tuesday in Geneva, just before another meeting with the U.S. and Russian delegations, Brahimi said a July date is unlikely.

"I doubt whether the conference will take place in July.  The opposition, you know, they are meeting, I think the next meeting is on four and five July.  So, I do not think they will be ready,” Brahimi said.

Tuesday’s meeting included U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman and two Russian deputy foreign ministers.

Brahimi said their job is to assess what needs to be done to make sure the Geneva conference on Syria can go ahead with the “best chances of success”.  The pressure is on, he said, to make progress.

“I think that also what is happening in the region is extremely, extremely serious and I very, very much hope that people, government in the region and the big powers, particularly United States and Russia will - I am sure they are aware - but they would like to contain this situation that is getting out of hand, not only in Syria but also in the region," Brahimi said.

A U.N. statement Tuesday said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov plan to meet next week to discuss the situation in Syria.

The United States and Russia are supporting opposite sides in the Syrian conflict: Russia supports President Bashar Assad, while the U.S. backs the opposition.  The United States has recently said it will begin sending arms to the opposition, in addition to the non-lethal aid it had been providing.

A senior Middle East analyst at the Britain-based group Maplecroft, Torbjorn Soltvedt, says the possibility of finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis is growing increasingly doubtful.

An international conference, he says, seems unlikely to change the situation on the ground in Syria.

“Even if it does take place I think its chances of achieving anything are pretty bleak.  The positions of Russia and the U.S. are very different, and if you look at the fighters on the ground in Syria I do not think there is much impetus for either side in the conflict to lay down their arms and cease fighting.  I think both sides feel they have more to gain from carrying on the battle,” Soltvedt said.

Syria’s Foreign Minister said Monday his government is serious about participating in the proposed Geneva conference in the hopes of building a coalition government that consists of representatives of all the Syrian people.  He said the government has no intention of “handing over authority” to other parties.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs