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    Senior U.S. officials said Monday the invitation must be withdrawn unless Iran fully endorses a transitional government for Syria that would pave the way for democratic elections.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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora