News / Middle East

    US, Russia Split Over Inviting Iran to Syria Talks

    US, Russia Split Over Including Iran in Syria Peace Talksi
    X
    January 13, 2014 7:23 PM
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Paris Monday with the international mediator for Syria ahead of planned peace talks later this month. As VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Paris, they could not agree on whether to invite Iran to join those talks.
    US, Russia Split Over Including Iran in Syria Peace Talks
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Monday in Paris to plan for Syrian peace talks later this month.  The men could not agree on inviting Iran to join those talks.
     
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has no bigger ally than Iran.  So his government says it expects Iran will be invited to planned peace talks in Geneva "just like any other state."
     
    The international mediator to the conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, agrees.
     
    "Iran is a very important country in the region and they have to be present in a conference like this," he said.
     
    But while the United Nations is responsible for sending the invitations, Brahimi says he is working in consensus with the main organizing partners: Russia and the United States.

    But the U.S. says Iran must first agree to the establishment of a transitional Syrian government by "mutual consent" which presumes that President Assad's opponents would never agree to his joining an interim government and would thus end his rule.

    • Fighters from the Free Syrian Army's Saif al-Umayyad brigade prepare rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Jan. 16, 2014.
    • Men ride a motorbike past buildings damaged by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Daraya, Jan. 15, 2014.
    • Smoke rises from buildings after what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 15, 2014.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters walk at the Tameko pharmaceutical factory after the FSA claimed to have taken control of the factory, in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
    • A girl carries her belongings as she walks on rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Arbeen, Jan. 14, 2014.
    • This SANA photo shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking to female preachers from mosques in Damascus and its countryside and educators of religious high schools and institutes in Damascus, Jan. 14, 2014.
    • Syrian refugees wait to enter Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, Jan. 13, 2014.
    • Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown from helicopters on Daria outside Damascus, Jan. 12, 2014.
    • Damaged buildings are pictured in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 12, 2014.
    • Residents inspect the damage caused by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant suicide bombers at the Tawhid Brigade and Al-Fateh brigade headquarters in Aleppo, Jan. 12, 2014.

    Following talks with Ambassador Brahimi and Foreign Minister Lavrov, Secretary Kerry said he hopes Iran comes forward to support that "mutual consent" as outlined in an earlier communique.
     
    "A country that has had a long-term relationship with Assad and with Syria has a huge ability to be able to have an impact if they want to have the right impact.  And the right impact, as has been decided by many nations, is to implement the Geneva One communique," Kerry said.
     
    Lavrov said the talks should not be jeopardized by outstanding differences between the United States and Iran.
     
    "One can not be influenced by ideological sentiments so much that it harms the interest of the cause," he said.
     
    Kerry responded that the cause of a transitional Syrian government is not served by those who do not support its formation.
     
    "Iran's participation or non-participation is not a question of ideology.  It is a question of practicality and common sense, he said.
     
    "I believe that practicality means not isolation, but engagement," Lavrov replied, noting that if it is a question of practicality, then Iran's invitation should be assured.
     
    The Russian foreign minister compared the situation to the United States agreeing to meet with Iran over its nuclear program and over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
     
    American University professor Hillary Mann Leverett, who worked as a U.S. negotiator with Iran during the war in Afghanistan, says Tehran was vital to power sharing and reconciliation - just the sort of things mediators are looking for in Syria.
     
    "We really are wasting an opportunity and setting ourselves up for failure by trying to either keep them out or condition their place at the table," Leverett said. "That just will not work."
     
    U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann believes there is room for compromise.
     
    "I think the U.S. and others are struggling to find a formula that would acknowledge Iran's influence over an outcome, that would acknowledge Iran's interests without giving Iran the kind of veto role that might permit it to exert an unwelcome degree of influence over how Geneva unfolds," he said.
     
    With the Geneva talks now just more than one week away, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran will come if it is given an unconditional invitation.  But he says that is not something Tehran is actively seeking.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Samore from: South Africa
    January 14, 2014 12:56 AM
    The talks should take place without preconditions and without excluding Iran. Excluding Iran while including all members of the anti-Syria coalition will start the talks on an uneven and unstable basis. It is clear that the US does not want a political solution, so as to continue to impose its colonial will by supplying the al-Qaeda linked rebels with weapons.

    by: MikeBarnett from: USA
    January 13, 2014 3:09 PM
    In an uncivil war, the end is not always in sight. It is unwise to decide on the end before the last battle has been fought. Therefore, the Russian position is correct. The US must accept that Assad may continue in power whether the US likes it or not. The US failure to accept reality has caused its downfall and the rise of other powers.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora