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
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

TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid