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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid