News / Middle East

    Syria Talks Shift to Political Issues

    Syria Talks Shift to Political Issuesi
    X
    January 26, 2014 11:15 PM
    Syrian government and opposition negotiators are to get down to the main topic of their talks Monday - a political settlement to the country's nearly three-year-long civil war. They started their talks over the weekend, discussing humanitarian access and prisoner releases. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Geneva.
    Al Pessin
    Syrian government and opposition negotiators are to get down to the main topic of their talks Monday, a political settlement to the country's nearly three-year-long civil war. 

    United Nations and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi reported some progress on a humanitarian issue in Sunday's talks.

    “What we have been told by the government side is that women and children in besieged area in Old City [Homs] are welcome to leave immediately, and the other civilians are also welcome to leave but the government needs a list of their names first.”

    Brahimi indicated he is not concerned about how the government might use such a list. He said there is also hope that an aid convoy can get into the city, but that is not confirmed. Brahimi said negotiators also discussed the possible release of detainees, but he reported no specific progress on that.

    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.
    x
    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.
    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.
    On Monday, the discussion is to turn to the core issue of these talks, the political future of Syria.  Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad said Sunday that President Bashar al-Assad is not going anywhere.

    “If any opposition, when they want, I mean, a leader to step down, you will not find a single leader in the world," Makdad said. "If some people think we are coming here to give them the keys to Damascus, they are wrong.”

    Makdad was defiant and emotional in an hour-long news conference.  He blamed all of Syria's problems on terrorists and foreigners.

    There has been harsh rhetoric from both delegations, with each saying the other is insincere and illegitimate.

    Opposition delegation member Monzer Akbik said progress on the Homs issue will be a test for the government, but the political talks will go ahead in any case.

    “If there are no aid convoys entered Homs, then we consider that the other party is not serious about this process," Akbik said. "And if there's no progress in this area, we will still move on with the political talks tomorrow.”

    The mediator expressed the hope that talking about humanitarian issues and prisoners first would make it easier, or at least possible, to talk about the more difficult issue of political transition.

    Related video from VOA

    But Brahimi indicated Monday's talks will only be a beginning.

    “On the first day nobody made an opening statement.  Only I did.  So I think tomorrow I expect the two parties to make some general statement about the way forward,” he said.

    Brahimi said the process will be slow, but added that is not necessarily a bad thing because any progress needs to be solid.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.