UN envoy hopeful Syria constitution talks to resume

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The UN's Syria envoy said he held “very good discussions” in Damascus Saturday and expressed hopes that a committee to discuss a post-war constitution for the country could soon reconvene.

“We had very substantial, very good discussions,” Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen said after meeting Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad.

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“We discussed... the economic and humanitarian challenges here in Syria, the challenges when it comes to livelihoods, and what we all can do the help to improve that situation.”

The envoy said he hoped “to move forward also on the constitutional committee” working towards a post-war constitution, and that it would be “possible to call for a sixth round” of talks between its members.

The UN-backed committee made up of 45 people -- 15 delegates each representing the Damascus regime, the opposition and civil society -- was created in September 2019 but has since made little headway.

Pedersen said a fifth session in January had been “a missed opportunity and disappointment”.

Since then, Bashar al-Assad in July took the oath of office for a fourth term as Syria's president, after officially winning 95 percent of the vote in an election dismissed abroad.

After clawing back large parts of the country from rebels and extremists with key Russian backing over the years, he vowed to make “liberating those parts of the homeland that still need to be” one of his top priorities.

Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to stem Syria's war, which has killed around 500,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal suppression of anti-government protests in 2011.

In recent years UN efforts have instead focused around the work of the constitutional committee.

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