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 Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs