News / Middle East

Top US, Russian Diplomats to Discuss Syria

Top US, Russian Diplomats to Discuss Syriai
X
September 11, 2013 6:24 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Thursday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, to discuss a new initiative that could end the threat of U.S. airstrikes against Syria. This after a casual comment by the secretary about Syria’s chemical weapons led Mr. Lavrov to go public with an idea the U.S. and Russia had talked about privately. But experts question whether this is a real breakthrough, or if Syria and its ally Russia will use diplomacy to divert attention from the alleged large-scale chemical weapons attack last month. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Al Pessin
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Thursday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, to discuss a new initiative that could end the threat of U.S. airstrikes against Syria.  This after a casual comment by the secretary about Syria’s chemical weapons led Lavrov to go public with an idea the U.S. and Russia had talked about privately.  But experts question whether this is a real breakthrough, or if Syria and its ally Russia will use diplomacy to divert attention from the alleged large-scale chemical weapons attack last month.

It was at a news conference Monday in London when a reporter asked Secretary Kerry whether there was anything Syria could do to avoid an attack.

“Sure, he can turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week," he said. "Turn it over, all of it.”

But the secretary immediately made clear he was speaking theoretically and did not expect anything like that to happen.

“But he is not about to do it," he said. "And it can not be done, obviously.”

Or can it?  The Russian foreign minister saw an opportunity in the secretary’s remark, welcoming it at a Moscow news conference.  His Syrian counterpart said Damascus might go along.

"I am authorized to confirm our support for the Russian initiative concerning the chemical weapons in Syria,” said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

It was a startling 24 hours.  But were the Syrians and Russians truly embracing the plan, or are they stalling for time?

International security expert Joanna Kidd, of London’s King’s College, says Syria relies on its chemical weapons as a pillar of its defense, and it would be reluctant to truly give them up.  

“It is a job that would take several months to do," she said. "And of course, one should not forget that obviously there is a civil war going on in Syria that would greatly complicate the process.”

That war has been raging for two-and-a-half years.  But it was the alleged chemical weapons attack last month, which the United States says it can prove was ordered by senior Syrian officials, that led to President Barack Obama’s threat to launch airstrikes, and now the Russian and Syrian effort to avoid them.

Paul Schulte, a London-based chemical weapons analyst of the Carnegie Endowment, says a chemical attack should result in a strong international response, and he’s not sure if the Russian approach will suffice.
 
“The Russian plan, which might be a wild card or might be a game-changer, is still very unclear, and there is a lot of skepticism about whether it could ever work,” he said.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in The Hague, could provide inspectors to verify new controls on Syria’s chemical weapons.  But there may not be enough of them, and they may not be willing to work in the middle of a civil war.

It could take months to negotiate the details, while the civil war rages on, and the potential for U.S. airstrikes looms.  But as long as Russia is championing Syria’s new talk of joining the global ban on chemical weapons, the Damascus government may find it difficult to use them again.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: Michigan, USA
September 11, 2013 5:36 PM
Shame on Russia and China for protecting and supporting the worst criminals of the 21st century, i.e. Bashar Assad & Co. -- and Pakistan (with reference to the Chinese protection of that rogue country too.) Putin wants return of the Cold War; let us let him have it --- and (we) act accordingly, the Ronald Reagan way. Let us stop being blackmailed by China; let us stop sending hard cash for the Chinese junk. Let us stop Chinese imports.

Has the the White House read "Chemical Disarmament Hard Even in Peacetime" by Broad & Chivers in today's NYT? Let us stop being duped by Putin and Assad.

It is OK if the public opinion in the US and UK does not allow us to do what Obama and Cameron want to do; but, let us not openly betray the oppressed Syrians and demoralize the Syrian Opposition by singing songs for the Russians for their "deceptively attractive " proposal concerning chemical weapons.

Let us, the US & Allies, give all that the heroic Syrians need to overthrow the Russian-supported Assad regime -- including weapons to destroy Bashar Assad's air force.

If we give the Free Syrian Army all it wants and needs, after its victory the so-called Islamists can not come to power in Syria. If they do why not have the kind of relations with the Islamists Carter and Reagan had and use them against Russia for the Muslim cause within the Russian Empire -- the way we used them in Afghanistan against Russia? Let us give Putin what he wants: a robust revival of the Cold War.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid