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Pedersen Departs Damascus, to Meet Opposition Soon

Pedersen Departs Damascus, to Meet Opposition Soon

Thursday, 17 January, 2019 - 19:30
UN envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
New UN envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen stressed on Thursday the need for a UN-brokered political solution to the eight-year conflict.

He made his remarks after concluding a three-day visit to Damascus, the first since the appointment to his position. He has since departed for the Lebanese capital, Beirut, a UN source told AFP.

The new envoy on Twitter late Wednesday said he had a "constructive meeting" with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during his stay in Damascus.

During it, he stressed the need for a "Syrian-led and -owned political solution facilitated by the UN", he added.

Pedersen, who started his new job last week, is the fourth UN envoy to seek a solution to Syria's conflict, after endless rounds of failed UN-brokered peace talks.

In recent years, UN-led efforts have been overshadowed by separate negotiations led by regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as opposition backer Turkey.

After Damascus, Pederson said he was off to meet the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Syria's main opposition group.

But he "agreed to come back to Damascus on a regular basis to discuss commonalities and progress on points of disagreement", he added.

Pederson takes over from Staffan de Mistura, a Swiss-Italian diplomat who stepped down at the end of last year over "personal reasons".

He ended his four-year tenure with an abortive push to form a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution.

Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since the war started with the repression of anti-regime protests in 2011.

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