Syria reform talks a ‘big disappointment’, says UN envoy

Expectations were low for latest round of talks on reforming war-torn country's government

UN envoy Geir Pedersen said the Syrian constitutional committee talks in Geneva this week made scant progress. Photo: AP
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The UN’s peace envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, on Friday wrote off the latest meeting between the Syrian government and opposition figures as a “big disappointment”.

Mr Pedersen said the Syrian constitutional committee talks in Geneva this week had made scant progress and that no new date had been set for a follow-up meeting.

“It is fair to say that the discussion today was a big disappointment,” Mr Pedersen said afterwards.

“We did not manage to achieve what we had hoped to achieve … I think we lacked a proper understanding on how to move that process forward.”

The UN-backed committee comprises envoys from the government of President Bashar Al Assad, the opposition and civil society.

In this round of talks, the envoys did not agree on draft texts about reforming the war-torn country’s government.

Expectations were low before this sixth round. They followed a nine-month gap from the previous meeting and past rounds made little progress on devising a new constitution.

The war’s front lines are largely unchanging and Mr Al Assad’s forces, with foreign support, have recaptured most of the country, giving him little reason to negotiate with opponents.

Syria’s decade-long war has killed as many as 450,000 and displaced half the country’s prewar 23 million people, including more than five million refugees mostly in neighbouring countries.

Updated: October 23, 2021, 4:55 PM