News / Middle East

Russian FM Meets Syria's Assad as Violence Continues

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, at the presidential palace, in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2012.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, at the presidential palace, in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2012.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Damascus Tuesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and said afterward that Syria's government wants to resolve ongoing violence and work toward political reforms. The visit came as government forces pounded Syria's third-largest city of Homs for a fifth day.

Welcoming Lavrov

Syrian state television showed the Russian foreign minister's convoy entering Damascus amid what appeared to be large crowds greeting him, despite bad weather. The report called the turnout a “million-man welcome” for Lavrov. Opposition sources question the authenticity of the footage, claiming it was digitally altered to show more people than were actually present.

Government supporters waved Russian flags at Lavrov's convoy, while others waved pictures of Syria's embattled president. A large float of balloons representing the colors of the Russian flag drifted over the crowd in central Damascus.

Violence in Homs

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on February 6, 2012 shows what was described as shelling on the Baba Amr district of the restive city of Homs in central Syria.
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on February 6, 2012 shows what was described as shelling on the Baba Amr district of the restive city of Homs in central Syria.

Meanwhile, witnesses in Homs say government troops were for a fifth day shelling parts of the city, some controlled by rebel armed forces. Videos showed smoke rising over the city, and opposition sources claim there were numerous casualties. Hundreds of people have reportedly died since the shelling began on Friday.

Following his meeting with President Assad in Damascus, the Russian foreign minister told journalists he was trying to “resolve the political crisis” in Syria, “based on the Arab League plan.”  That plan calls for a national unity government to be formed under Syria's vice president, followed by early presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Russian foreign minister also indicated that President Assad was ready to hold a “dialogue with all political forces in Syria.” He said Assad was also prepared to “put an end to violence... no matter what its source.”

United Nations resolution

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, believes that the Lavrov mission to Syria is an attempt by Moscow to "save face" after its Saturday veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Damascus.

“Russia is very embarrassed by the stand it took with regard to Syria, when they vetoed the United Nations resolution," said Khashan. "I think the reason behind the vote goes well beyond Syria. We need to understand the veto as part of the tug of war between Russia and China on one hand and the U.S. on the other. These two countries want to be included in deciding on major issues and they don't want to abandon the scene to the U.S. I believe Lavrov will be telling the Syrian regime to do something major by way of reforms to save the face of Russia, because they're quite embarrassed. But, to tell the truth, I don't expect much to come out of the visit."

Recalling ambassadors

The United States announced Monday that it has suspended operations at its embassy in Damascus and withdrawn its ambassador. France, Britain, Italy and Spain also indicated that they were recalling their ambassadors. Gulf Cooperation Council states, for their part, said that they were expelling Syria's ambassadors.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid