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 China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid