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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora