UN envoy: Syria constitution talks have not yet brought agreement

NEW YORK (dpa)- Initial intra-Syrian negotiations on a new constitution have not yet brought consensus on constitutional principles, United Nations mediator Geir Pedersen said on Friday.
"It would be too early to say there is agreement on constitutional principles, nor is there yet agreement on which issues should be addressed in the future constitutional text," Pedersen told the UN Security Council.

"But there was a solid initial discussion and commonalities on which to build," he added.
The Syria envoy said the talks, which began at the end of October in Geneva, had not been "easy."
"Narratives, positions and proposals diverged sharply and at times proceedings were painful and emotions ran high," he said, but added that he had seen more "efforts in language, tone, gesture and positioning to signal an openness to dialogue" every day.
The goal of the negotiations, which started with 150 delegates representing the government, opposition and civil society in equal parts, has been to build momentum towards a political solution for the bloody civil war that has lasted nearly nine years.
The open-ended work on the constitution will be carried out by a smaller drafting committee consisting of 15 delegates each from the government, opposition and civil society.
A new one-week round of talks is scheduled to start in Geneva on November 25.
Pedersen warned that dynamics on the ground must change "if confidence is to develop among the Syrian people in the political process," saying he was "extremely concerned about renewed violence" in the largely opposition-held province of Idlib.

Sunday, November 24th 2019

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