News / Middle East

US, Russia Discuss Peace Plan for Syria

  • A boy sells juice near a damaged bus in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 30, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters hold weapons at their post in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 29, 2013.
  • Buildings that were damaged during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army fighters, near the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus, May 29, 2013.
  • Relatives visit a grave at the Shi'ite fighters cemetery in Damascus, May 28, 2013.
  • Shi'ite fighters ride through the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus with their weapons, May 28, 2013.
  • The inside of a damaged mosque in Dahra Abd Rabbo village, Aleppo, May 27, 2013.
  • U.S. Senator John McCain meets with U.S. troops in southern Turkey, May 27, 2013.  He also visited rebels inside Syria.  This picture was released on his Twitter account.
  • Syrians participate in the funeral prayer for Youssef Ghazi al-Sarmani, who was killed in fighting between rebel and government forces, May 27. The logo in red reads "Talbiseh".
  • A boy makes pastry at a shop in Darkush town, Idlib province, May 26, 2013.
  • A group of men smuggle diesel fuel from Syria to Turkey hoping to sell it at a higher price, across the Al-Assi River in Idlib, May 26, 2013.
  • Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad during clashes against Syrian rebels in Aleppo, May 26, 2013.
  • Supporters and relatives of Hezbollah members attend the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who died in the Syrian conflict. The funeral took place in the Ouzai district in Beirut, May 26, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds pigeons in Homs, May 26, 2013.
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VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart are meeting in Paris to try to accelerate peace efforts for Syria after the European Union's top diplomats failed to reach a compromise over whether to arm opposition fighters.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov started one-on-one talks in a Paris hotel Monday aimed at breathing life into a proposed peace conference on Syria. The two will later be joined by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for a working dinner as they push to bring warring sides in Syria together.

The U.S. and Russia have been trying to arrange the talks for next month, envisioned them as a forum for the Syrian government and opposition to negotiate terms for an interim government to end the civil war.

Earlier, EU foreign ministers had gathered in Brussels to decide the future of the 27-nation bloc's arms embargo on Syria, which expires Friday.  Britain and France have been pushing for an amendment that would allow sending weapons to the Syrian opposition.

The issue is dividing the EU. Austria has been firm in ruling out arming the rebels.

But British Foreign Minister William Hague said the rebels need weapons.

"In our view, it is important to show that we are prepared to amend our arms embargo so that the Assad regime gets a clear signal that it has to negotiate seriously. Therefore, for us, amending the embargo is part of supporting the diplomatic work and trying to bring about a political solution," he said.

Related video footage

Trio of Meetings Focus on Ending Syria Crisisi
May 27, 2013 3:27 PM
Diplomats from the European Union, the United States, and the main Syrian opposition coalition are working separately Monday on three initiatives aimed at ending more than two years of fighting in Syria.

Meanwhile the 60-member Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main opposition group, met in Istanbul Monday and blocked a deal to fully admit a liberal faction headed by a Saudi-backed veteran dissident, Michel Kilo.

The SNC's Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood alliance successfully resisted an expansion that would have granted Saudi Arabia more influence. Kilo's bloc had been seeking up to 22 new seats in the coalition, but ended up with five.

Heavy fighting raged in Syria around the strategic rebel-held border town of Qusair and the capital, Damascus, amid renewed reports of chemical weapons attacks by Assad's forces.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay lamented the "horrific" level of rights violations in war-torn Syria, saying "a humanitarian, political and social disaster is already upon us, and what looms is truly a nightmare." She addressed diplomats as she opened one of the U.N. Human Rights Council's four annual sessions.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 80,000 people since it began as peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 27, 2013 12:24 PM
The diplomacy as played by the West represented by USA, France and Britain is fraught with ambiguiti. If the West wanted this war to stop, they would not impose such conditions and conditionalities semantic to the Palestinian demand before peace talks will restart. With such demand as excludes Assad in the negotiations, how does anyone want to achieve peace in the country? First you are allienating Assad from his country, and by default all his supporters have be given red card from their country – if we understand what the Arab Spring as played out in previous experiences means.

Again under muslim brotherhood..! it’s only suicidal to accept what the west is proposing. It is only a way of prolonging the war. No genuine negotiation can be started if the ruling government is excluded, and those from France and Britain know it. Goes to say no one as yet is seeking for genuine ceasefire, much less a ceasation of hostilities out there, with the security council evenly divided between accepting Assad and rejecting him. The so-called opposition should learn from this and stop the bloodshed in the country. No one is going to give peace to Syria but Syrian people. The opposition should stop fooling themselves and allow Assad to transit his government through another election.
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 27, 2013 3:34 PM
Assad is a criminal that is why, he has killed thousands and thousands of innocent civilians. You mention all of his supporters? Maybe less than ten percent? (same minority as himself only reason why they back him).

I don't think anyone should be making deals with Bashar, instead he should be facing several thousand death sentences for those innocent civilians he has killed.

Every Syrian civilian killed by Bashar counts, and adds up.

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