News / Middle East

UN Envoy to Meet Two Syrian Sides Thursday

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sits beside U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) as he addresses a news conference after the Geneva-2 peace talks in Montreux on January 22, 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sits beside U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (L) as he addresses a news conference after the Geneva-2 peace talks in Montreux on January 22, 2014.
VOA News
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he will meet Syrian opposition and government delegations separately Thursday, a day ahead of their first negotiations when he will try to bring them together to discuss ending that country's bloody civil war.

Brahimi, speaking to a news conference Wednesday after all-day ministerial talks in the Swiss city of Montreux, said he has "fairly clear indications" that the parties are ready to discuss prisoner swaps, humanitarian access and local cease-fires.

"We will try to see if we meet Friday morning separately and hopefully by Friday afternoon both sides will sit in one room," he said later.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the two sides that "enough is enough," imploring them to end a conflict he said had made Syria "a breeding ground for foreign extremists and terrorists." 

Ban was blunt, saying he did not expect any instant breakthroughs and the talks will be difficult. But he said the Syrian people are "desperately looking for relief from the nightmare in which they are trapped."

Assad's involvement

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the Geneva-2 talks in Montreux, Jan. 22, 2014.US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the Geneva-2 talks in Montreux, Jan. 22, 2014.
x
US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the Geneva-2 talks in Montreux, Jan. 22, 2014.
US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference at the Geneva-2 talks in Montreux, Jan. 22, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed reporters, saying there is no possibility for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, calling him "the single greatest magnet for terrorism in the region."

He blamed Assad's forces for killing thousands of Syrians, using starvation as a weapon of war, and other possible war crimes. Kerry said the U.S. will continue to support the Syrian people "every step of the way."

The top U.S. diplomat left the door open for Iran to participate in Syria talks, saying Tehran could make a difference in ending the conflict.

Also Wednesday, opposition leader Ahmad Jarba accused Assad of Nazi-style war crimes. But Syrian Foreign Minister Walia al-Moallem insisted that Assad is staying on as president. He bitterly accused the West of backing terrorists -- the Syrian government's word for the opposition.

Iranian representatives were notably absent from the more than 40 delegations invited to the conference, shunned by the opposition and the West for rejecting calls for a transitional government. Iran's president said Tehran's exclusion meant the talks were unlikely to succeed.

Syria's government and opposition angrily spelled out their hostility in opening remarks to the U.N.-sponsored peace conference.

Opposition's stance

The United States and the Syrian opposition said Assad had lost his legitimacy when he crushed a once-peaceful protest movement.

Opposition leader Ahmad Jarba accused the Syrian president of Nazi-style war crimes and said the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition would never accept a role for him in a transitional administration.

The Syrian government response was blunt. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi told reporters, "there will be no transfer of power and President Bashar Assad is staying."

Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said terrorists and foreign meddling had ripped his country apart.

The U.S. State Department called Moallem's speech "inflammatory," and said it was not in line with the aims of the gathering - to begin the process of forming a transitional government.

  • Civilians gather after what they said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
  • Civilians carry belongings from rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrian residents and rescue workers carrying an injured man after an airstrike in Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a dead bird as his comrades inspect the damage caused by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 23, 2014.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters rest in front of a graffiti that reads 'Surely your Lord's assault is strict indeed' in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters stand along a deserted street filled with garbage and rubble in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
  • Residents inspect a damaged site after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Al-Beik, Aleppo, Jan. 21, 2014.
  • Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 20, 2014.
  • Men react as others rush at the site of a car bomb attack at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.
  • Men transport a casualty after car bomb attacks at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.

Various factions

Moallem refused to give up the podium, despite requests from Ban, who asked him to refrain from inflammatory statements. Moallem angrily told the U.N. chief, "You live in New York. I live in Syria, I have the right to give the Syrian version here in this forum. After three years of suffering, this is my right.''

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov challenged the U.S. insistence that Assad be excluded from a possible transitional administration, saying all sides must have a role and criticizing "one-sided interpretations" of the 2012 Geneva communique.

Saudi Arabia, which backs the Sunni rebels, called for Iran and its Shi'ite Lebanese ally Hezbollah to withdraw forces from Syria.

Meanwhile, fighting in Syria continued unabated. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported clashes and air strikes around the country.

Nearly 9 million people - almost 40 percent of Syria's population - have been displaced by the conflict. According to U.N. relief officials, an estimated 250,000 people in Syria are out of the reach of aid deliveries. Millions more live in areas that are barely accessible.

You May Like

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ARIELY SHEIN from: JERUSALEM
January 23, 2014 3:57 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""


by: Mansur Abbas from: Iran
January 22, 2014 9:20 PM
what about Iran..?? Iranian Mullahs and Ayatollahs have been killing raping and torturing Sunni Muslims by the hundreds of thousands. we have send to the UN and the US documented evidence of thousands murders over the years - "UN Envoy to Meet Two Syrian Sides Thursday..." what about Iran??? Iranians are slaughtering us here - where is justice - you hypocrites


by: Dr Hans from: Germany
January 22, 2014 3:25 PM
as you know, i have refrained from commenting on Kerry's performance, thinking that he is new to the scene, unsophisticated, crass... but the accelerated idiotic moves of Kerry are unsettling to many of the US most closest allies... US enemies rejoice... US allies can't believe the crass stupidity of Kerry. Obama, please take him away from Europe - the guy is just plain stupid..!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid