UN envoy says has “constructive” discussions with Syrian gov’t

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DAMASCUS, July 11 (NNN-Xinhua) — The visiting UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said that he had “very constructive” discussions with Syrian government officials.

Speaking to reporters following his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in the capital Damascus, Pederson said the talks achieved solid progress, particularly in the issue of forming a constitutional committee to review and amend the Syrian constitution.

“We have had very positive and constructive discussions. I believe we have made a very solid progress and we are indeed very close to an agreement on establishing the constitutional committee as an opener door for a wider political process,” he said.

According to the UN envoy, the fight in the Syrian province of Idlib is also part of the discussion.

“We will also discuss the situation in Idlib and we are all hoping we can have a return of stability and that the agreement between Russia and Turkey would be put back into force,” he noted.

Pederson arrived in Damascus on Tuesday and told reporters he hopes to have constructive discussions on different issues with government officials.

It is worth noting that the fight in Idlib in northwestern Syria is a game changer in the Syrian war as Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

The fighting in Idlib and nearby areas has been raging since April despite a Russian-Turkish deal to make Idlib a demilitarized zone.

On the constitutional committee, the Syrian government has been reluctant to allow any foreign interference with the constitution, saying this is a sovereign matter.

In January, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there is no timeframe for launching the constitutional committee in Syria, but the work needs to be done as quickly as possible.

The launch of a Syrian constitutional committee has become the centerpiece of UN peace efforts in the country, with the goal to hold elections to end eight years of devastating war. — NNN-XINHUA