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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs