Syrian warring sides 'agree to Geneva constitution talks'

2020-05-19 20:16
War-torn Syria. (Delil Souleiman, AFP)

War-torn Syria. (Delil Souleiman, AFP)

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Representatives of opposing sides in Syria's war have agreed to reconvene in Geneva for stalled negotiations on the constitution, according to Geir Pedersen, the United Nations special envoy to the country.

A lull in fighting could provide an opportunity to start healing "deep, deep mistrust" between them, Pedersen said on Tuesday.

"As soon as the pandemic situation allows, they have agreed to come to Geneva and they have agreed on an agenda for the next meeting," he told journalists.

Pedersen did not give a date and said a virtual meeting of the constitutional committee would not be possible.

'Key players'

In the same briefing, Pedersen repeated a call for key international actors, including the US and Russia, to hold talks about a push for peace.

Moscow has been the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Washington opposes him.

Pedersen told the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Monday that al-Assad ally Iran and opposition backer Turkey "are key players too".

He said there have been too many fleeting opportunities to move from conflict to a political path that were lost, and "those missed moments were followed by renewed violence and a hardening of positions among regional and international actors".

"We must not repeat this pattern," Pedersen added.

Over the nine years of the Syrian conflict, there have been 12 rounds of peace talks in Kazakhstan and eight rounds of Geneva conferences.

Pedersen said there is anxiety that while violence has somewhat abated at the moment it could escalate at any time, and deep disappointment that the political process has not delivered tangible improvements for the Syrian people.

Read more on:    syrian conflict
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