Entries in Geneva (7)


Expectations Tempered for Geneva Summit on Syria

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There are low expectations for a summit scheduled on Saturday in Geneva of world powers to discuss the crisis in Syria, even after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed optimism that a peace plan offered by United Nations special emissary Kofi Annan is the best hope yet for achieving an end to 16 months of violence.

In what has been described as a transition plan, Annan will recommend that the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces take "irreversible" steps to halt the low-grade civil war that by some estimates has cost over 15,000 lives since March 2011.

Annan's proposal includes multi-party elections as well as substantial funding from the international community to help repair cities that have endured destruction from street battles and shelling by the Syrian military.

However, getting al-Assad to voluntarily step aside to allow the transition likely won't happen, especially with his strongest foreign ally, Russia, refusing to go along with such a demand.

It is clear, however, that something needs to be done because the violence has only intensified since the failure of Annan's initial ceasefire plan.  At least 91 people were killed on Thursday while anti-government forces launched a bomb attack outside the Palace of Justice in Damascus that wounded three Syrians.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Attending Summit in Geneva on Syria Crisis

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Members of world powers will meet in Geneva on Saturday to try and find a resolution to the 16-month conflict in Syria that shows no signs yet of abating.

Saying she's planning to attend the summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday repeated the administration's support of United Nations special emissary Kofi Annan's plan to end the dispute between the Syrian government and rebel forces in diplomatic fashion.

During a visit to Finland, Clinton called Annan's effort "a roadmap for political transition in Syria," a strong indication that the U.S. wants President Bashar al-Assad to step down to assure the violence against pro-democratic forces ends.

Up to now, nothing has worked. Annan's earlier six-point plan for a ceasefire collapsed almost immediately with the vicious battle between the two sides actually intensifying.  An estimated 15,000 people have been killed since March 2011 as al-Assad seems intent on fighting to the death to retain power.

One of the major stumbling blocks has been Russia's resistance to demand that al-Assad leave office. Moscow says most matters in Syria should be resolved internally.

Putting the best spin on a worsening situation, Clinton said Annan's roadmap for peace might offer "great hope that this perhaps can be a turning point in the very tragic circumstances affecting the Syrian people."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes for More Gay and Lesbian Rights Abroad

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AFP/Getty Images(GENEVA) -- The White House will begin taking a harder look at its allies' treatment of gays and lesbians when reviewing decisions about foreign aid.

In introducing the new policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a conference in Geneva Tuesday, "Gay rights are human rights."

President Obama will direct all U.S. agencies abroad to make certain diplomacy and aid programs "promote and protect" the rights of homosexuals.

The new policy could affect aid to certain governments in the Middle East and Africa now receiving large amounts of U.S. backing.  For instance, same-sex activities are forbidden in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while gays and lesbians can be executed in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the new policy should not be misconstrued since "We are not talking about cutting aid or tying aid, but we are talking about using all of our tools, including assistance, to translate our principles into action."

But Republicans have already come out swinging.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, said, “Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money."

Perry claimed the president is, "at war with people of faith in this country.  Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Clinton Meets with Syrian Opposition Leaders in Geneva

State Department photo by William Ng(GENEVA) -- Traveling in Geneva on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with members of the Syrian National Council (SNC), a Syrian exile opposition group working to oust President Bashar al Assad. It’s her second meeting with SNC representatives.

Before meeting with seven group members of the opposition group, Clinton told them she was honored to be meeting with its members. She said she was, “particularly interested in the work you are doing about how a democratic transition would proceed.” She then referenced a paper that had been presented to Fred Hof, special coordinator for regional affairs, who had told her that there are, “many very constructive ideas in it.”

She told them, "Obviously, a democratic transition is more than removing the Assad regime. It means setting Syria on the path of the rule of law,” and respect for minority ethnic groups and women.

“We certainly believe that if Syrians unite, they together can succeed in moving their country to that better future.  We are well aware that there is a lot of hard work to be done.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Says No 'Breakthroughs' in Nuke Talks with North Korea

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision(GENEVA) -- The U.S. and North Korea concluded two days of talks in Geneva on Tuesday aimed at jumpstarting renewed talks on ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

“We do consider that it was a constructive meeting,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday. “There was some narrowing of differences, but important issues do remain.”

“We haven't had any breakthroughs here,” she added, declining to reveal what issues were resolved and what remained.

Both sides have agreed to go back to their respective capitals and evaluate the meetings. At an earlier meeting in July, the U.S. handed the North Koreans a list of actions they wanted to see to show that Pyongyang is ready for resumed dialogue. Negotiations involving North Korea’s neighbors have been dormant for years.

No follow-up meeting has been scheduled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Opposition Moving Closer to Tripoli

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GENEVA) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted high-level talks in Geneva with foreign ministers from Europe on Monday, pressing for tough sanctions on the Libyan government in an effort to force the ouster of leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The discussions occurred at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The European Union also declared sanctions against the North African country, reinforcing the United Nations Security Council's resolution passed against Gadhafi's regime on Saturday.

The first humanitarian aid from the west is on its way to Libya from France. The United States has also pledged to be ready with aid.

The promises come as the opposition appears to be gaining ground in its fight to end Gadhafi's 41-year-rule. The European Union said that Gadhafi has lost control of most of the country's oil and gas fields. Over the weekend, the opposition's control moved closer to Tripoli, Gadhafi's stronghold.

In Zawiyah, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, civilian opponents and some military defectors claim they've been in control for several days. Protesters in the suburbs of Tripoli chanted, '"The blood of martyrs won't go to waste," the BBC reported.

Gadhafi has attempted to appease those living in the capital by offering $400 per family. There were reports of long lines at banks in Tripoli with people seeking the money. Food prices continue to skyrocket with rice prices at $40 for a 10-pound bag.

In exclusive interviews with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, Gadhafi's sons said their father has no plans to leave Libya. Saif Gadhafi denied reports of helicopter gunships firing on people and reports of Libyan Air Force pilots defecting, jettisoning their planes rather than carry out orders to bomb citizens. When asked about President Obama's call for Col. Gadhafi to step down, Saif Gadhafi responded, "First of all, it's not American business. Do you think this is a solution? Of course not." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Agrees to Second Round of Talks, Won't Give Up Nuclear Enrichment

Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili. Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(GENEVA) -- World powers have wrapped up their first meetings with Iran in over a year and, in a small victory, announced that Tehran had agreed to hold another round of talks in late January. Iran’s negotiator, however, told reporters that his country had no intention of halting its uranium enrichment program.

European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, who represents the group, said in a statement the talks in Geneva Monday and Tuesday were “detailed” and “substantive.” Ashton insisted Iran comply with its “international obligations” to halt its nuclear program. Iran, however, remained defiant.

Expectations for this week’s talks had been low, and Iran’s agreeing to another round of discussions is more than the group of world powers was able to achieve last time they met with Iran. This week’s meetings were preceded by Iran’s announcement that it had developed an indigenous capacity to produce yellowcake uranium.

The so-called P5+1, the permanent five UN Security Council members plus Germany, had been expected to present Iran with an offer to transfer its uranium stockpiles out of the country for enrichment abroad, in exchange for fuel that could be used in a nuclear power plant. The deal was similar to one that Iran initially accepted, then quickly rejected at a meeting in October 2009 but this time called for a larger amount of uranium to be transferred out in order to compensate for Iran’s continued production in the past year. As part of the deal Iran would also be required to halt its move to enrich uranium up to 20%, a process that could help it perfect the techniques needed to eventually produce bomb-grade fuel.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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