World News

    Syria Peace Talks in Disarray After Iran Invite

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "urgently considering his options" in light of the "disappointing conduct of some participants" involved in the Syria peace talks after he invited Iran to attend.

    U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters Monday that Iran, despite assurances, "has made a disappointing public statement'' that suggests Tehran does not accept the terms of this week's peace talks in Switzerland.



    "The statement made today in Tehran by the foreign ministry spokesperson fell short by some measure from what the secretary-general expected to hear."



    Senior U.S. officials said Monday the invitation must be withdrawn unless Iran fully endorses a transitional government for Syria that would pave the way for democratic elections.

    Syria's main Western-backed opposition group agreed, saying Iran must commit publicly by 1900 GMT to withdraw its "troops and militias" from Syria and abide by those terms, or the United Nations should withdraw the invitation.

    The Syrian National Coalition also threatened to boycott the Geneva 2 peace talks - scheduled to open Wednesday in Switzerland - unless Mr. Ban retracts his decision to invite Iran.



    France and Saudi Arabia joined the United States in rejecting Iran's participation in the talks unless Tehran publicly agreed to help to establish a transitional government for Syria with full executive powers.

    But Nesirky said no one should have been surprised that Iran was asked to attend the meeting.



    "I know for a fact this could not have been a surprise to U.S. authorities. [The decision to invite Iran] was not hasty and they were fully aware of the timing of the announcement. We have been in close contact with the Russians and the Americans today, over the weekend and for days and weeks before on precisely this topic. And with a variety of other leaders as well."



    Mr. Ban indicated his invitation to Tehran came after he had received assurances that Iran accepted the purpose of the talks - to negotiate a transitional administration that would govern Syria by the "mutual consent" of President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition.

    But Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Zarif's deputy Monday as saying Iran's participation did not mean it backed a plan for Syria's political transition agreed at a Geneva conference in June 2012.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Hosein Amirabdollahian said acceptance of the so-called Geneva 1 agreement as a condition for attending Geneva 2 "is rejected and unacceptable." He said Iran would attend the talks "without any preconditions."

    The United States and its allies say Iran has provided substantial military and economic support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that the Geneva 1 plan means he would have to step down.

    Mr. Assad told the French news agency in an interview published Monday there is a "significant" chance he will run again for president, and that he will not hesitate to do so if the public supports his candidacy.

    Syria has said the issue of Mr. Assad giving up power is not up for discussion at the peace talks, so few experts expect the negotiations will reach this goal. But they say they do hope the discussions will result in increased humanitarian access and local cease-fires to make life easier for Syrian civilians.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora