Talks on post-war Syria constitution to ‘continue’: Assad

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (R) meets with Russia’s special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in Damascus on July 12, 2019. (AFP)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said on Friday discussions would “continue” over the composition of a body to draw up a post-war constitution for the country.

Meeting with Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev, the president discussed ongoing efforts towards “creating a committee to discuss the constitution”, the presidency said.

Assad and Moscow’s representative “agreed to continue working and intensely coordinate between both sides on the next steps”, it said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Syrian government and visiting UN envoy Geir Pedersen announced “progress” towards forming the body, whose composition has dragged for more than 17 months.

Disagreements have raged over the names to be included in the committee, a third of which are to be nominated by the regime, another by the opposition, and a final third by the UN envoy.

Damascus hopes to amend the current constitution, while the opposition wants to write a new one from scratch.

The UN envoy met the Syrian Negotiation Commission opposition grouping late Thursday “to discuss the results of Pedersen’s latest visit to Damascus”, it said on Twitter, without further details.

Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan on Tuesday reported that a body could start work as early as September if Damascus agreed to Pedersen’s list.

Last month, the United States said it was time to scrap the constitutional committee initiative and come up with other ways to end the war.

Numerous rounds of UN-led peace talks have failed to end a war that has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

In recent years, a parallel negotiations track led by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey has taken precedence.

With key military backing from Russia, regime forces have retaken large parts of Syria from rebels and militants since 2015, and now control around 60 percent of the country.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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