News / Middle East

Syrian Government, Rebels to Begin Talks Friday

FILE - Ahmed Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, at Bayan Palace, Kuwait.
FILE - Ahmed Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, at Bayan Palace, Kuwait.
VOA News
Representatives from Syria's government and opposition are set to begin talks in Geneva on Friday, but they will not meet face-to-face for the first time, as initially planned.

United Nations officials said Friday that the two parties would instead meet in separate rooms, with United Nations peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi shuttling back and forth.

The rival delegations have shown no sign of compromise and have threatened to pull out of the long-delayed peace talks, which began Wednesday with feisty opening statements in Montreux.

The oppositon said it will not negotiate directly with the Syrian government, unless it agrees to discuss the departure of President Bashar al-Assad. Damascus has refused, accusing the rebels of supporting terrorism.

Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba on Thursday declared there should be no doubt the Syrian "regime is dead," but also said it is important the talks move forward.

"The negotiations will be difficult. There is no easy negotiation. But the road of one thousand miles starts with one step," said Jarba.

Syrian opposition and government representatives met separately Thursday with Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, who had previously expressed hope that both sides would be able to meet Friday for the first time since the civil war began.

The official goal of the so-called Geneva 2 talks is to form a Syrian transition government, though analysts say the chances for achieving this goal are slim. Instead, more modest achievements, such as allowing humanitarian aid to civilians, are expected.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on Syrian rebels to stop their infighting and focus on the battle against President Assad. Al-Zawahri delivered the message in an audio recording posted on websites used by militant groups.

Al-Qaida-linked insurgents, who do not recognize the peace talks, have clashed in recent weeks with other rebel groups fighting against the Syrian government, leaving hundreds dead.

The United States and Russia have led the effort to organize the Geneva talks on the basis of an agreement reached at a 2012 conference to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. The document contains a series of steps, including the negotiated transitional government, a ceasefire and a commitment to allow full humanitarian access.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests before spiraling into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed well over 100,000 people and forced nearly 9 million from their homes.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs