News / Middle East

UN Chief Discusses Syria with Russian Officials

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin smile as they meet at Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Black Sea resort of Sochi, May 17, 2013.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin smile as they meet at Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Black Sea resort of Sochi, May 17, 2013.
VOA News
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Russia, where he said it is important to not "lose momentum" in setting up a peace conference on Syria next month.

Ban told reporters Friday that momentum gained by talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should be built upon, not wasted. He said a U.N. team is ready at any time to investigate claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against rebels.

Lavrov has said the sooner an international peace conference on Syria is held, the better. He also called on Syria to let chemical weapons inspectors into the country.

France's Foreign Ministry said Friday it opposes Iranian participation in the Syrian peace talks.  A spokesman says France cannot see how a country that threatens regional stability like Iran can take part.

Lavrov has said Iran, a close Syrian ally, must be included in the talks.  He accuses the United States and the West of trying to narrow the circle of participants.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by ENN shows black smoke rising from what rebels say is a helicopter that was shot down at Abu Dhour military airbase, Idlib, Syria, May 17, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army member prays next to the grave of a fellow fighter in a cemetery in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army members sit in a room inside a house in Deir el-Zor, May 16, 2013.
  • Crews demolish one of the damaged buildings at the site of the May 11 blast, in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 15, 2013.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army help a wounded fellow fighter in Deir al-Zor, May 14, 2013.
  • This image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC shows the mother of a Syrian rebel cleaning a rifle, in Aleppo, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrians wait to cross back into Syria at the Turkish Cilvegozu border crossing in Reyhanli, Hatay province, May 14, 2013.
  • A view of the damaged Khalid ibn al Walid Mosque in Homs, Syria, May 14, 2013.
  • Syrian army soldiers inspect a house as they advance in on the village of Western Dumayna, near the rebel held city of Qusayr, May 13, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows the famed 12th century Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, which was damaged by shelling, May 13, 2013.

The United States has not yet said who can attend, saying it does not want to make any pre-determinations.

The New York Times reported Friday that Russia has sent more advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria. At the same time, Russia says it has no interest in seeing Syrian President Bashar al- Assad remain in power.

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by: Anonymous
May 18, 2013 7:46 PM
Seeing on the news Russia has just armed Assad with missiles, it is time we arm the Syrian people to the max, so they can get the war over with and serve Bashar al Assad his long awaited justice for the murder of thousands and thousands. It is time the people of Syria get fully armed, and the world boycotts russia for their governments pathetic decisions. Russia needs a slap across the face from the world and for years to come to be isolated.

by: Shiekh Azam from: Jordan
May 17, 2013 6:36 PM
Putin will not abandon Assad the way Obama stabbed Mubarak in the back... Obama appeasement policy toward Muslim Brotherhood - in fact encouragement... is not good for US...
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 18, 2013 10:41 AM
Actually the US has been found wanton in issues like this. It has become worse in the present regime. No thought is wasted to find out how former dependable allies will feel when abandoned. It will go into the records as one of the areas the Obama/Clinton administration excelled - abandonment of former allies at the crux of their needs. That will also warn future and current allies of whether this administration is dependable or not. Surely Mubarak, Gaddafi and Assad must regret cooperation with USA. Not good for the image of a country even if it was a superpower.

by: Hatem Zaki from: Egypt
May 17, 2013 5:30 PM
The Syrian scene is not clear enough for us .sometimes we sympathize with the rebels sometimes not .there are videos on youtube show how the rebels are monsters .after the down of Arab spring the calculations have changed . in Egypt they afraid of the rebels because they are Islamists

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 17, 2013 2:12 PM
Russia is being sensitive and proactive in ensuring that Assad is not disgraced out of office. Assad may not be wanted by the Syrian people any more, but that is not to say he must go the way of Moammar Gaddafi of Libya. Give him a chance to transit the present government and a chance to live, and he will hand over power. At the moment no government has offered him asylum, his instinct to live is alive.

Russia is playing to ensure that the minorities whom the extremist elements in the opposition government are fighting to eliminate remain relevant both to the region and Syria. I do not understand what is the sin of Assad for which his head is called for by the West. There is no need for either Iran or Saudi Arabia to be involved in the conflict resolution except to prolong the war in favor of arms dealers and a reduction of the Syrian population

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 17, 2013 10:26 AM
The Russian gvmt's move to sent more weapons, especially advanced weapons to Syria is totally counterproductive to compromise and peace. In addition, concerns already exist about chem/bio weapons falling into extremists hands; now the shear folly of the Russian gvmt, will also place more concerns of these advanced weapons falling into the wrong hands, or even being transferred to terrorist groups by Assad and his chronies.

Instead of de-escalating the ability to carry out war, the Russian gvmt's move makes it imperative that these weapons be destroyed as soon as there is any posibility that they may fall into the wrong hands, or if there is any indication that they are being transferred. Great stupidity, because now there is more weapons that need to be watched, and more to be destroyed upon a judgement call.

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