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UN Envoy Arrives in Syria to Discuss Constitutional Committee

UN Envoy Arrives in Syria to Discuss Constitutional Committee

Thursday, 11 July, 2019 - 08:45
United Nations special envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem, Damascus, Syria (Sana handout/AFP)
Damascus, London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem received United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen on Wednesday for “positive and very constructive talks”, according to a UN diplomatic source.

The source, who asked not to be named, told the German news agency that the UN envoy will hold several other official meetings in Damascus to discuss the constitutional committee within the next two days.

The UN envoy arrived in Damascus on Tuesday after a tour that included a number of capitals concerned with the Syrian crisis.

The constitutional committee is expected to begin its work early in September to include three groups: the Syrian government, the opposition, and civil society with each represented by 50 people.

The formation of the constitutional committee was expected to be officially announced during the 12th round of talks held in Astana on April 25 and 26, but a disagreement on names of some members led to the postponement.

Russia’s Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev visited Damascus on June 20 after a visit to Baghdad, Iraq.

“Pleased to be back in Damascus. Hopeful we can move the political process forward with the Constitutional Committee as a door opener, and that we can find a way to end the violence in Idlib,” Pedersen tweeted on his official account.

The UN Envoy also pointed out that work on detainees, abductees, and missing persons will continue.

“I believe we have made very solid progress and we are very close to having agreement on establishing the constitutional committee,” Pedersen told reporters.

Pedersen is the fourth UN envoy to Syria, and since taking office, he held intensive meetings with government and opposition officials, and so far there have been no signs of progress toward a political solution.

His visit to Damascus comes four days after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, where he discussed “need to stabilize the situation in Idlib and move forward with the constitutional committee and build confidence among Syrians and internationally.”

Earlier this month, the UN Envoy told the UN Security Council that he was close to reaching a deal on forming a constitutional committee proposed by the three guarantors of the peace process in Astana.

Pedersen, a veteran diplomat, faces the difficult task of reviving negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition after all his predecessor's previous rounds collided with contradictory demands from both sides.

In the past year, former envoy Staffan de Mistura's efforts focused on the formation of the constitutional committee.

The Syrian opposition is demanding a new constitution for the country, while the government wants to discuss and amend the existing constitution.

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