World News

    UN Says Syria Peace Talks Set for January

    U.N. officials say a long-awaited Syrian peace conference will be held on January 22 in Geneva, but the list of attendees remains uncertain.

    Speaking to reporters on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Syrian government and opposition will "meet at the negotiating table instead of the battlefield" for the first time since Syria's conflict began in 2011.


    "The Geneva conference is the vehicle for a peaceful transition that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, and which guarantees safety and protection to all communities in Syria."


    Mr. Ban said the peace conference must lead to the full implementation of a Geneva Communiqué agreed by regional powers in June 2012. That document calls for Syria's warring sides to agree on the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.

    The U.N. chief did not specify which Syrian opposition factions will attend the peace conference. He also did not say whether Iran will be invited to the negotiations. In an earlier statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Ban said he expects "all regional and international partners" to show "meaningful support for constructive negotiations."



    Western powers previously have objected to Iran's participation in a peace conference, accusing Tehran of worsening the conflict by providing material support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They also cite Iran's refusal to accept the 2012 Geneva Communiqué.

    Russian news agency Interfax said Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov reiterated Russia's support for Iran to be included in the gathering. Russia and Iran are two of Mr. Assad's longtime allies. But, Gatilov said more negotiations are needed among regional powers to decide which external parties will be invited to Geneva.

    U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the exiled Syrian National Coalition will play a "very important role" in forming the Syrian opposition delegation.

    In a separate briefing to the media, Brahimi said he hopes the Syrian parties can name their delegations by the end of the year. He also appealed to them to begin confidence building steps and reduce violence without waiting for the Geneva conference.

    The SNC has limited influence over Syrian rebels, particularly Islamists who have formed their own coalitions in a bid to create an Islamic state in Syria.

    The Geneva conference has been delayed for months due to disputes about who will attend, and under what conditions. Secretary-General Ban said it will be "unforgivable not to seize (the) opportunity" of the January gathering.

    The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against President Assad's autocratic rule and coincided with a wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. The Syrian unrest evolved into a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.