News / Middle East

World Leaders to Meet on Syria Crisis

Kofi Annan, the U.N.- Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, June 1, 2012. Kofi Annan, the U.N.- Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, June 1, 2012.
x
Kofi Annan, the U.N.- Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, June 1, 2012.
Kofi Annan, the U.N.- Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, June 1, 2012.
Margaret Besheer
UNITED NATIONS - Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League mediator for Syria, announced Wednesday that he will convene an international meeting in Geneva on Saturday to move the Syrian political transition forward and stop the violence that has killed more than 10,000 people.  

Kofi Annan said in a statement that he has invited the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - as well as the U.N. Secretary-General, the head of the Arab League, the foreign minister of Turkey, and the foreign ministers of Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar in their capacities as heads of regional organizations.

Saudi Arabia and Iran were missing from the list of invitees, leading to speculation that they were left off in a bid to win Russian and U.S. support and attendance at the meeting.

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that Kofi Annan made the invitations and that Washington is comfortable with Iran not being invited.

"We are comfortable with it," said Nuland. "We had made strong representations, the Secretary [of State Hillary Clinton] had, throughout these discussions about Iran and our view that Iran was not playing a constructive role.  But we are comfortable with the collection of actors that the joint special envoy has chosen to invite."

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow wanted both countries at the meeting, adding that their absence did not mean they would not have a role to play.

“The fact that, I think, Iran and Saudi Arabia are not going to be in Geneva does not mean that they are out of the picture all together," said Churkin. "Their influence is there anyway, so you have to factor that in and reckon with it.”

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, did not appear bothered that his country had not been invited, telling reporters that Tehran supports Kofi Annan’s six-point plan.

“So if some powers do not want to benefit from this [Iran’s] influence and constructive role that is their problem," said Khazaee. "This is another indication of actually neglecting the realities on the ground.  In my view, the solution for [the] Syrian crisis is the cooperation among everybody, especially the major players in the region, based on a fair approach on the issue.”

Kofi Annan said the objective of Saturday’s meeting is to identify steps and measures to fully implement his six-point plan, which is struggling to remain viable despite the full backing of the U.N. Security Council and other international players, but has received little concrete support from the Syrian government and the country's main opposition groups.

He said his so-called “Action Group” on Syria should also try to agree on a set of guidelines and principles for a Syrian-led political transition that is in line with the aspirations of the Syrian people, and more critically, to agree on concrete actions to implement objectives.

Diplomats were not sharing many specifics about the plan, except to say that the concept of a political transition has always been part of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan.

In Washington, the State Department's Victoria Nuland said the United States likes and accepts the plan and hopes the Geneva meeting will fully endorse it.  

"We are comfortable enough with where we are that we think the meeting can be a success on Saturday," she said.

The crisis in Syria has been deteriorating rapidly, with the 300 unarmed U.N. observers having to suspend their mission because of the surge in violence in recent weeks.  On Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his country is in “a state of war” after armed opponents of his government attacked a military base in the capital not far from the presidential palace.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid