News / Middle East

Syrian Talks Begin in Geneva

Syrian Delegations to Meet for First Timei
X
January 24, 2014 9:34 PM
Representatives of the Syrian government and opposition are to meet face-to-face for the first time Saturday in Geneva, after days of mutual threats to withdraw from the talks. VOA's Al Pessin reports.
Representatives of the Syrian government and opposition are meeting face-to-face for the first time Saturday in Geneva, after days of mutual threats to withdraw from the talks.
Al Pessin
Representatives from the Syrian government and the Western-backed opposition have begun their first-ever joint meeting aimed at resolving nearly three years of civil war.

The United Nations confirmed Saturday that both sides sat down "in the same room" with the Joint Special Representative in the U.N. office in Geneva.

Syria's government had threatened to walk out of peace talks with the opposition if the two sides did not begin what it called "serious sessions" by Saturday. The opposition has 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.
 
The United Nations and Arab League mediator, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi made the announcement Friday that talks would begin after two days of meeting separately with the two sides.

Brahimi went so far as to describe his talks with the government and opposition delegations as “encouraging.”
 
That was surprising at the end of a day during which the Syrian foreign minister threatened to leave if serious talks did not start by Saturday, and the opposition threatened not to hold direct talks unless the government accepted what is called the Geneva 1 communique, which is supposed to be the basis for these talks.
 
That document, negotiated by the international community 18 months ago, calls for the establishment of a transitional government in Syria.

The Geneva II Talks

  • Delegates gather in Montreux, Switzerland on Jan. 22
  • Talks move to Geneva on Jan. 24 and will be facilitated by Lakhdar Brahimi
  • Syrian government delegation is led by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
  • Opposition delegation is led by Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad al-Jarba

The opposition and its allies, including the United States and other western powers, say that means Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave office. He and his allies, including Russia and Iran, disagree.
 
Brahimi acknowledged what he called the differences of interpretation but said both sides accept that this process is based on the communique.
 
He said they will also likely discuss other issues, including improved access for humanitarian aid. But he said the focus will be on getting a broader settlement to the nearly three-year-long war.
 
“The huge ambition of this process is to save Syria, no less than that," he said. "So I hope that all three parties – the government, the opposition and the United Nations – will be up to the task.”

Brahimi also called on the two sides' backers in the international community to “do their share” to support the negotiations.
 
He said he expects the talks to continue through next week, and then to break for the delegations to consult with their leadership.

Analysts have predicted difficulties in the talks, particularly after the acrimonious start to this process on Wednesday, when the Syrian foreign minister and opposition leader made combative statements at an international conference in nearby Montreux.

The acrimony is making it difficult to do what U.S., Russian and U.N. officials want the negotiators to do - start to build trust by talking about local cease-fires, prisoner exchanges and the opening of humanitarian aid corridors.

But that seemed a remote prospect after Friday's rocky start to the day's talks, leaving no new hope for an end to nearly three years of bloodshed or for help for some nine million Syrians who the U.N. says are in dire need of help.

“Both Syrian sides have got very different objectives going into it, said Syria expert David Butter of London's Chatham House, who sees little prospect for significant progress during this round of talks.

"And also, it's in a context where you can't really see either party to the internal conflict actually having any sort of decisive advantage, which would be the basis of some sort of bargaining process,” he added.

Still, there is hope that if they can get past the posturing of recent days. the two sides will find it in their interests to at least start a process here.

And diplomats indicate that their key supporters - the United States and Russia - will be keeping the pressure on to do just that.

You May Like

10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudi-led Airstrikes Use Banned Cluster Bombs

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

Hopes Fade of Finding Survivors of Nepal Earthquake

US military aircraft, heavy equipment and air traffic controllers arrive in Nepal to help manage growing piles of relief supplies clogging Kathmandu airport More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
January 25, 2014 6:15 AM
I cannot understand why there is so much pressure on Asad to step down and no pressure on Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and so many puppet Govt of ME. When peoples are satisfy with Asad & Co, so why West and ME is interfering in Syrian affairs. They have created problems for poor Syrian peoples by sponsoring TERRORIST group. This is their habit to support terrorisum with the help of world fame terrorist group for their financial and military help.
In Response

by: Dawla from: India
January 25, 2014 8:49 PM
you are so right Mustafa, and remember that Assad never attacked Israel. I know, he would have been decapitated if he did attack them, but the fact is that he didn't. i think that the reason the Americans do not like him is the Iranian Hezbullah. Assad allowed the Iranians to kill so many of his own citizens in a deliberate attempt to kill as many Sunnis in the ME as they can. and that doesn't sit well with the Saudi/US/Israel. don't forget, Iran has been killing thousands of Sunna in Iran... Thousands of "executions" every week...

by: Dr. Q. L. Dirtybottom from: D.C.
January 24, 2014 9:08 PM
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s delusions continued as he arrived in Montreux, Switzerland to open the “Geneva II” talks on the ongoing conflict in Syria. Having successfully bullied UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon into rescinding the invitation previously extended to Iran to attend, Kerry proceeded to bully and blunder his way through the pre-opening of the conference.
Just weeks ago, however, a study conducted by a team of experts from MIT concluded that due to the primitive design of the chemical munition rockets, it would have been physically impossible for them to have been fired from Syrian government-held territory as the US government had claimed. How long before we hear the same conclusion over this latest Qatari-funded “discovery”? Which is not to say that there has not been brutality committed by both sides, we should not forget.
One need not endorse the current Syrian government to appreciate Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem’s retort to John Kerry’s arrogant claim to decide who should or should not govern Syria:
No one, Mr. Kerry, in the world has the right to give legitimacy or to withdraw legitimacy from a president, a government, a constitution or a law or anything in Syria, except Syrians.
Indeed. And so it begins, Geneva II. Start making plans or III, IV, and so on, because this conference is a farce.

by: kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
January 24, 2014 5:15 PM
The Rebels and the Syrian government have two things in common: They both want the jihadists out; and they both love Syria.
Surely they can find more common ground when they meet on Saturday.

by: Melisa from: UK
January 24, 2014 1:19 PM
Arab League...LOL... I begin to believe that this Arab League of scumbags who hate each other with such intensity, promote the cause of the Arab Philistines not to advance the welfare of these wretched Arab Philistines degenerates, but to hurt Israel. Look, everywhere in the Arab world you find Philistines they are complaining of abuse rape sodomy and mutilations... except Israel, where they live in safety and dignity... but they are still Arabs... who want to destroy Israel... yeah, I know, its ironic and moronic but so Arab...

by: USA Lawyer from: USA
January 24, 2014 11:32 AM
Three factors have come together to create what we see in Syria.

First: Syria has lots of oil and they are a socialist country who does not follow the American communist oil rules of price manipulation. Syria distributes the wealth from their oil to their people.

Second: Because Syria has so much oil they have never needed IMF "assistance." Syria was not under their debt like over 90% of the world. This meant that the global bankers had no control of Syria. On another note: Syria IS a Muslim country. To a true Muslim and Christian, charging interest on a loan is considered USURY. In Syria, the "socialist" banks do not charge the incredible 20-30% interest rates that American and IMF control.ed countries VISA, Mastercard, and American Express banks charge.

Third: The anti-Christ... No kidding. The ANTI-Christ. A country dedicated to discriminating against all those who believe in Christ has financed and supplied weapons for the "Al-Quada" terrorists attacking Assad.

The Amazing thing is... America is paying attention to Justin Bieber...

by: ariely shein from: jerusalem
January 24, 2014 11:24 AM
The solution to the Balkan conflicts is valid in the ME as well. Separate states for the ME minorities. Don’t continue to support the current artificial states of Iraq-Syria-Lebanon-Libya. Independent states for Kurds- Allay- Maron-Sunni-Shia-Benghazi-Tripoli.
----
The ME crisis is a follow up of WW1. The root cause of the many conflicts is the creation of artificial states by the European colonial power naming Iraq-Syria-Lebanon and Libya.

The west colonial powers than and the world powers today didnt take in considerations the many rival ME groups with different religion, culture, tradition.
---
Example of the European arrogance that didn’t consider ME leaders warning ahead of creation of the artificial states:

French foreign minister,Fabius,quoted the later in 2013 at UN Security Council the letter of Asad grandfather available in French government archives!

Asad grandfather Predicts Muslim Slaughter of minorities, praises Zionists. He asked European not to create artificial states in ME including different
ethnic,tribal,religious and groups that are antagonistic to each other. Sentences from the document:

*"" The spirit of fanaticism and narrow-mindedness, whose roots are deep in the heart of the Arab Muslims toward all those who are not Muslim, is
the spirit that continually feeds the Islamic religion""
*"" A black future awaits minorities""

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs