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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

UN envoy claims support of key nations for progress in Syria talks

Geir Pedersen says he wants to start talking about the country’s constitution in early 2021

Geir Pedersen, UN Special Envoy for Syria, speaks before the eve of a new round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland. EPA
Geir Pedersen, UN Special Envoy for Syria, speaks before the eve of a new round of talks in Geneva, Switzerland. EPA

A UN envoy said he had the backing of key nations as he seeks progress in the latest round of talks on Monday to revise Syria’s constitution and bring the nine-year civil war to an end.

A so-called constitutional committee made up of 45 people, with 15 delegates each representing the Damascus regime, the opposition and civil society, is to meet for the fourth time in Geneva on Monday after months of little headway.

“We want to see progress,” said Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria.

He said he was looking forward to “extensive and hopefully good discussions” that would take the parties “a little bit further down the road towards then starting the discussions in January on constitutional principles” at a fifth meeting, he said.

Mr Pedersen said he had been on a flurry of diplomatic visits in recent weeks, including trips to Tehran, Moscow and Ankara.

It is "important that we have clear international support for the work that we are doing, and I'm pleased to say that that has been forthcoming", he said.

The constitutional committee was created in September last year and first convened a month later, but disagreement over the agenda and the coronavirus pandemic hindered further meetings until a third round in August, which ended without concrete progress.

The fourth session was supposed to take place in October, but was postponed over lack of consensus on the agenda.

The war in Syria, which broke out after the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions from their homes.

Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to stem the bloodshed and in recent years have been largely overtaken by a parallel negotiations track led by Russia and Turkey.

Updated: November 30, 2020 02:46 PM

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