humanity... saturday, 6:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. ♪ top diplomates arrive in vienna for high level talks ending the civil war in syria. ♪ ♪ hello i'm maryam nemazee this is al jazeera live from london, also coming up, china abolishes controversial one child policy in a direct response to an aging population. we speak to the afghan refugees who made their desperate journey to europe only to be forcibly sent home. the u.s. house of representatives elects a new speaker but what does that mean for president obama? ♪
now key players are arriving in vienna ahead of the international talks aimed at ending syria's deadly civil war. the official dialog opens on friday but several sideline meetings have already been held, the u.s. secretary of state met his reigning counterpart, russia, turkey, france and saudi arabia are also there. significantly no representative from syria or the syrian opposition are involved. those who were there will need to navigate competing agendas tehran and moscow supporters of assad and want him involved in a transitional power structure but u.s. wants him to step down, a view shared by saudi arabia and turkey, all this as violence in syria continues. at least 50 people have been killed by government shelling at a makeshift hospital in duma outside of damascus and the foreign minister said there were no preconditions though on his
country's participation in these discussions. >> translator: we have emphasized that the solution to syria must be based on the principle that it is acceptable to all parties. with regards to interference with domestic issues, the fight against terrorism respect for the entire government of syria, respect for the right of the syrian people to decide their own fate and any plan must include a series of steps for bringing an end to the violence, uniting in the fight against terrorism, to create a national unified government and finding a solution to having continued talks among the people of syria and the different syrian opposition groups and we are ready to address these issues in the meeting. al jazeera's mohamed is in vienna and sent us this update. >> reporter: a mood of guarded diplomates in vienna, thursday some things went as expected, other things came as quite a surprise. some of the things that went as expected there was a four-way meeting between the u.s.,
russia, saudi arabia, and turkey and in the hotel i'm imperil where the talks will take place on fry to try to effect a political solution to end the syrian civil war, one of the surprises on thursday the fact that iran showed up here in vienna. many people thought they came a day earlier than expected. it was clear how vital a role the iranians who have not been invited to one of these conferences before how important a role they will play shortly after iranian foreign minister zarif arrived and john kerry emerged from the hotel behind us and walked to a hotel a few meters away from us to have a bilateral meeting with his iranian counterparts part and sergei fedorov went to the hotel as well and also held a bilateral discussion with his iranian counterpart. friday, a very big day. everybody who has spoken to the
press said it's is make or break day and be very significant that regional archrivals iran and saudi arabia are going to be sitting across a negotiating table along with so many other countries trying to effect a compromise to end the syrian civil war. everybody who has spoken to the press today said this is going to be a very difficult day and they are hoping they will be able to finally reach some sort of compromise. let's get more on the significance of the talks in vienna and joining me now is the political editor of middle east magazine. significant that we have key players attending an international summit like this for the first time particularly iran and saudi arabia both present but how difficult is it going to be to find common ground and to bridge the difference between these two broad coalitions? >> well, as you mentioned it's quite historic that the iranians and the saudis who have been suspicious of each other. and iranians have been
supporting the houthis in yemen and supporting hezbollah and supporting assad and so on. and i think, yes, it's a test of good will but if you are pragmatic they recognize there are some kind of legitimate interests and, in fact, despite what appears to be from the point of view of the gulf arab or saudis who are supporting syrian people in the uprising against assad it's not actually a bad thing to see that the russians and riranians because russians and iranians might be supporting assad but for different reasoning. >> divergence in long-term interest. >> they do not trust each other at all and the last thing is the russians want another religious kind of ideological regime
replacing what they are fighting now which is i.s.i.l. and iranians after all are islamic republic and that is another long-term kind of interest between the two. turkey and where does turkey actually stand. so those players here by recognizing some kind of interest in each other perhaps then you can bring oversight in. >> substantial obstacles remain and perhaps the central question is the future of bashar al-assad and seems there is more flexibility on the part of the u.s. in terms of a temporary role for president assad, of course we know where russia and iran stand as backers of his regime but still very in a tractable position on the part of saudi arabia, how would that be resolved? >> i think saudi arabia have taken an earlier kind of
ideological principle and stance and perhaps they are behind the scene, most probably would be more flexible than they appear to be. >> saudis? >> the saudis than appear to be and again they support what is dictator and so on. i think moscow, the foreign minister lives in moscow ten days ago before this starts again. and it wasn't very wise for former secretary william hague and john kerry to keep repeating assad must go, future with assad, that is actually too early to say that in this kind of game and need room for man ver. >> is that a precondition for serious talks? >> actually the russians do it for them because the russia is not interested in seeing assad as a person and wants to keep syria as an integral sense of
unity geographically because of their interests and their base on the mediterranean and so it's sort of the russians deal with assad long-term and give him some kind of a ladder to climb down and at the end of the day he will have to go because you need some kind of a long-term agreement that will serve everybody's interest. >> fascinating to see how that summit unfolds tomorrow in vienna and thank you very much. ♪ now fighting has intensified around the city of thai and 45 houthi fighters were killed on thursday and eight fighters loyal to abd rabbuh mansur hadi were killed as well and saudi-led coalition supports hadi and continued air strikes against rebel fighters in the area. israeli forces shot dead two palestinians after separate
attacks in hebron in the occupied west bank and in both incidents palestinians stabbed soldiers before they opened fire and one suffered minor head injuries and 66 palestinians and nine israelis died since violence broke out since the beginning of october. the foreign minister warned that some of the worst violence between israelis and palestinians may be yet to come. >> offending 1.5 billion muslims when you talk about the al-aqsa mosque and we have raised the flag and earlier flag saying that it's very dangerous that the west bank start this. >> do you believe this is? >> i believe so. if the occupation is there, if the sentiment is still spreading then we are going to see one of the worst to follow.
and you can hear that full interview with qatar's foreign minister on the program up front on friday the 30th of october at 1930 gmt. republican paul ryan elected as the speaker of the house of representatives, a role which is considered the third most powerful in u.s. politics. but ryan's primary function will be to unify democrats and republicans in order to find common ground and pass legislation. it's a feit that in resent years has proved difficult as kimberly hawk now reports. >> honorable paul d ryan of the state of wisconsin having received majority of the votes cast is duly elected as speaker of the house. [applause] it was majority republicans in the house who elected their colleague to become the nation's 54th speaker. praising paul ryan as the person who can best restore faith in a legislative body that has lost its course. >> and in the house we are eager for a fresh start that will make
us more effective to fulfill our obligation to reflect the will of the people and to reestablish the balance of power. >> reporter: the job ryan takes on is prestigious but difficult, ryan must lead a divided republican party to also work with democrats and both chambers of congress to pass legislation. >> my hope is that we will get back to regular order and that the minority will offer their amendments and if they don't get them, if they lose as i've lost amendments i've offered then that is the way it is. you don't have majority of votes so you don't win. >> reporter: they are political differences that ryan acknowledges has paralyzed congress. >> let's be frank. the house is broken. we are not solving problems. we are adding to them. and i am not interested in laying blame. we are not settling scores. >> reporter: ryan says he will achieve that through the vision that got him elected to the u.s.
congress 17 years ago when he was just 28. since then he has held several high profile positions including as a running mate in 2012 to republican pathel candidate mitt romney. still this former republican congressman says it's going to take more than a shift in house speaker to change congressional discourse. >> the dynamics of politics in america are very polarized right now. the republicans are more conservative than they used to be and democrats are more liberal than they used to be and the grass roots are more motivated than they used to be to enhance that pollinazation. >> reporter: still the new speaker is being warmly received by president obama. the white house is hopeful obama stalled legislative agenda will finally make its way through congress especially when it comes to tax reform and restoring sections of the voting rights act but there are other areas where there is less consensus and political agreement specifically when it comes to immigration reform and gun control.
kimberly with al jazeera, washington. the chinese communist party announced the end of the controversial one child policy with all couples now allowed to have two children, policy introduced more than 30 years ago to slow population growth. but china is now facing a shrinking workforce and trying to reverse the trend as rob mcbride reports from beijing. >> reporter: the announcement came at the end of the communist party's four day gathering of leadership mapping out the next five-year plan. the strategy sets broad economic goals for china's development but it's the change in the country's one child policy that has been the most eegly anticipated by many families here. already had been partially relaxed allowing families where at least one parent is from a one child family themselves to have two children. now that is being extended to all couples. >> the importance of this measure is not so much
demographic in terms of encouraging vast new numbers of children to be born but it is the listing of a highly restrictive and times extremely coersive policy as we have heard. >> reporter: brought in to help the population and the cancellation will be popular but a number of couples like sam cho and ju-wong have not decided to have another child, for them careers and living costs in beijing are the priority. >> my wife and i don't have any plan for the second child. >> reporter: their seven-year-old son henry though is in no doubt he wants a sibling. >> he want a sister. >> reporter: as well as the social and relationship problems associated with a generation of one child families is the demographic imbalance and growing elderly people who need to be supported by an ever shrinking working population, a
one child policy put in place more than 30 years ago to avoid one population crisis has to be abandon to avoid another in the future. rob mcbride, al jazeera, beijing. more to come after the break, cries of corruption in tanzania as opposition parties refuse the election and chile flowers that are blooming in one of the world's driest places. ♪
al jazeera and let's update you on the top stories sideline talks being held in vienna ahead of a diplomatic meeting aimed at resolving the war in syria. china is abandoning its controversial one child policy after more than three decades. and two palestinians killed in separate incidents in the occupied west bank on thursday. now dozens of refugees are still missing after a boat capsized off the coast of greece. at least eight people drown in the incident, and the boats from turkey keep coming. john reports from the island of lesbos. >> reporter: it's a kind of rebirth, these refugees have crossed the sea to find a new life far from the battlefields of syria, iraq and afghanistan. none seem aware of the tragedy that occurred in these waters a day earlier. many are injured or too young or too old to be under taking such a trip but they have gathered on the turkish shore in large
numbers determined to enter europe while an open-door policy to refugees last and abdul and his family have been traveling from afghanistan for six weeks. their goal germany. he doesn't make enough money as a fruit seller to support his family he says and continuing taliban attacks have convinced him it's too unsafe to stay. >> it was difficult for the children. most of the journey was on foot. we carried them. we had no food and the children got sick. but there was no medicine. when we got here they gave us food and medicine. >> reporter: that help delivered by volunteers is perhaps the first they received since leaving. the only signs of strife here are the remnants of their battle with the elements and now they face a new kind of battle, they will spend days being identified, weeks walking through eastern europe and then months waiting for asylum status and if they don't receive it they face deportation back to the dangers that brought them
here. yet they are the lucky ones and many don't survive this crossing, more than 200 people were pulled out of the water when an over crowded vessel sank on wednesday. dozens are still missing, feared drowned. the ones who do make it rely on the charity of locals because the greek state lacks resources to feed and house them. >> translator: it's an outrageous situation. a crying shame. do you know what it's like to give a slice of bread to a child and see that child kneel and thank you with his hands together? >> reporter: many more children are arriving because their parents have decided that a parentless journey to europe gives them a better chance of survival than staying home, john with al jazeera, lesbos in the eastern sea. many refugees in europe are from syria some are afghan, bangladesh and pakistanis who are considered to be economic migrants and there is now renewed push to send them back
to their countries of origin and from the austria border we report. >> reporter: somehow i found it here but the other we found on the road on the ground. >> reporter: friendships have been forged on this journey like he and his new family. from afghanistan he is just 16 years old, aged by a conflict which returned to his hometown this month. >> it's awful, awful situation, all the time with a bomb, i don't have a school. i don't have anything. i lost my family on the way out of iran and afghanistan. >> reporter: it may not be straightforward because the eu considers many afghans to be economic migrants and wants to make it easier to sent them home. there is a war going on in afghanistan. >> yeah. >> reporter: and yet there is an intention to facilitate their return, that doesn't seem to make sense. >> there is at the moment a
recognition rate of 40% among the afghans so of course this would be a individun individual questioning to see in which situations they live, whether they can go back or not go back and we will see about what is happening in the war situation would be improving. >> reporter: most refugees are from syria but an estimated 25% of those entering austria are from afghanistan. now in many instances i have seen people of different nationalitys coming together but i've also noticed some resentment over who is most dedering of asylum. a den test from damascus asked me why i was interviewing afghans. the eu wants to send back afghans that it considers migrants. >> okay, that is the position, yeah, because we are in need in this war here, not afghanistan, they have to go home actually, there is no war.
>> reporter: he and his friends the idea of reaching safety only to face being sent home invokes hollow laughter. they have given up everything to make this journey and they say there will be no going back. robin walker, al jazeera, on the austria-slovania border. pakistanis recovering from monday's earthquake which killed more than 200 people and badly damaged buildings including 800 schools. kamal reports. >> reporter: remember the moment when their school shook violently. she and her friends are still nervous about the possibility of more aftershocks. >> translator: our school was badly damaged and all the students are afraid to go to their classes. even the teachers have not come back. >> translator: every one here is frightened and in shock. only a few people came back to college. they are sitting on the lawn waiting for direction but no arrangements have been made.
>> reporter: and because of the extensive damage to the building it is no longer safe to be inside. classes are now held outdoors in the open. >> translator: no one is ready to risk their lives and the whole infra fracture can collapse at any time and worried about our studies and the government must do something. >> reporter: difficult for many of the students to continue with their studies but the principal says she is not giving up yet. >> this will be very difficult to manage but i hope that i will use my resources. >> reporter: many buildings in poor neighborhoods did not stand a chance against the magnitude 7.5 earthquake which hit northern afghanistan and was felt in far away places including here in pakistan. these schools were attacked by the pakistani taliban in the past.
[bomb] most of them were rebuilt with foreign help but the recent earthquake has traumatized many. >> it was kind of a shocking, traumatic situation for students. the building as you see was damaged significantly and we suspended the classes for the time being. >> reporter: many of the students here are now worried about their future. after the deadly earthquake hundreds of institutions in the province are badly damaged and students are unable to go inside these classrooms. with winter fast approaching, the challenge for the government will be to ensure that tens of thousands of students don't lose valuable time, kamal, al jazeera, northwest pakistan. moving to tanzania where the candidate from the country's ruling party has been declared winner of the country's
presidential election, but opposition supporters claim the election wasn't free or fair and catherine soy has more from salom. >> reporter: the victory was no surprise to supporters and has been leading since counting began on monday and in the commercial capitol he dance to the favorite party tune. they say the former minister is a change of the party and the country needs it. >> translator: i believe he is like a tractor and he will help the people in government and life will be better with him as president. >> translator: the elections were free and fair. even international observers have said this. >> reporter: he has won the election with 8.8 million against his closest opponent edward who had roughly 6
million. and the president elect and they say they are not just celebrating and they are celebrating for the day and the election was not free and fair. so earlier members of the main opposition coalition filed a formal complaint to the national election commission. they say there was massive rigging and the results do not tally with some of the figures from polling stations. they also say they are disappointed with international observers who said so far the election was largely fair. >> i don't think they did a good job and they come for a few days and say congratulate us and transparent and so on and so on and say it should be done this way and this way. >> reporter: this ruling ccm party director says the victory is clean. >> and no one could specifically claim a plan or a plot to do
rigging and yes it is true there are challenges but they were not of magnitude and frequency to change, you know, the outcome. ♪ they all say they don't want trouble. the opposition is under demand they also want justice but right here at this moment supporters basque in their victory. ♪ catherine with al jazeera. one of the world's driest places has burst into bloom. chile desert has been transformed as rob matheson explains. >> reporter: color spread over an arid land, chile's desert has sprung to life the most spectacular growth seen in nearly two decades. >> translator: we have not had such large flowering in the past 18 years. in 2010 we had a large flowering but already this year has passed
all the previous ones. >> reporter: this life comes from tragedy, torrential storms devastated the region in august and caused mud slides and rivers were so swollen they burst their banks and 28 people died. but the rains have watered the seeds of more than 200 different exotic plants lying dormant for years. they in turn have attracted birds, insects, lizards and rodents. for some locals like ramone it's an unforgettable experience. >> translator: for us it was a miracle because i'd never seen what the grass looks like until now. >> reporter: and it's fascinating tourists. >> unusual it's surreal, i'm having breakfast with the flowers. >> reporter: the flowers will eventually die as the intense dry heat soaks up the remaining groundwater, until then chile's desert is bursting with life.
rob matheson, al jazeera. a volcano has erupted in northern mexico and ash and smoke rose more than 3,000 meters into the air and mexico's most active volcano and more on our website al jazeera.com. ♪ you could be forgiven for thinking you wandered into the wrong conversation when you tuned in to republican candidates debate on economic issues. but once you threaded your way past the mean media asking terrible questions, what candidates biggest weakness was or whether or not fantasy football was a fit subject for debate there actually was some economics in there, show me the y.