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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid