News / Middle East

UN's Ban Invites Iran to Syrian Peace Talks

VOA News
The United Nations has formally invited Iran to join the long-awaited Syrian peace talks, which are scheduled to open Wednesday in Switzerland.
 
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Sunday that he believes Iran "needs to be a part of the solution in Syria," and that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif assured him Iran understands the basis of the talks.
 
"Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional governing body with full objective powers. It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux," said Ban.
 
Iran has long rejected that goal, set at a 2012 international peace conference, because a transitional authority would likely exclude Syrian President and major Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad.
 
The main opposition Syrian National Coalition does not want Iran to take part in the talks, and said on Twitter it would withdraw unless Ban retracts Iran's invitation.
 
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States remains "deeply concerned" about Iran's support of Assad's government, and that Iran must publicly accept the peace conference's goals or be uninvited from the talks.
 
Assad told the French News Agency in an interview published Monday that the conference must focus on terrorism, and that his forces are fighting an extremist group, not a popular uprising.

The Syrian government has routinely classified opposition fighters as terrorists throughout the nearly three-year-old crisis.

AFP quoted Assad as saying some of the opposition groups set to attend the conference were "created" by intelligence agencies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France and the United States. Each of those nations is a member of the so-called Friends of Syria, which has supported the opposition.

Assad also said there is a "significant" chance he will run again for president, and that he will not hesitate to do so if the public supports his candidacy.

Ban has also invited nine other nations that have an interest in the Syrian civil war to join the talks. He said their presence would be an important show of solidarity.
 
The U.N. chief also welcomed the main opposition group's decision, now called into question, to attend.
 
The Syrian government said the issue of Assad giving up power is not up for discussion, so few experts expect the talks will reach this goal. However, they say they do hope the discussions will result in increased humanitarian access and local cease-fires to make life easier for Syrian civilians.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid