Uncertainty shrouds Syria constitutional talks

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The Syrian Constitutional Committee‘s third round of meetings will need co-chairs representing the “Syria’s government and its opponents” to agree on the agenda, a U.N. spokesperson has said.

“For the Committee to carry out its work under the Rules of Procedure, agreed by the Government and the SNC (Syrian Negotiations Commission), the co-chairs have to agree and put forward their agenda,”  the spokesperson for U.N. Special Representative for Syria Geir Pedersen said.

“If that agenda can be agreed, then the committee can convene if that is convenient to both sides. The U.N. special envoy continues his consultations to facilitate the process,” she said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

The Constitutional Committee has co-chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari from the Bashar al-Assad regime and Hadi Albahra from the opposition chosen from among the committee’s 150 members.

The committee’s second round of talks on Nov. 25-29 in Geneva, Switzerland ended with the 45-member drafting committee failing to meet due to an uncompromising attitude of the Syrian regime’s delegation.

Uncertainty remains as to when the third round of negotiations will begin.

After the first round of talks, which were deemed positive, opponents had reported that the third round would be held on Dec. 16.

But Fenton told reporters that the committee is unlikely to meet this month.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran had met 14 times in the Kazakhstan capital Nur Sultan.

Pedersen is likely to participate in talks in the Kazakhstan capital.

After the second unsuccessful round of talks in Geneva, Pedersen said: “We have just finished the second session of the Constitutional Committee. It was not possible to convene a small board of 45, because an agreement on agenda items could not be achieved.”

He did not mention when the third round of the committee would begin.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee — comprising opposition, civil society, and regime members — began its work on Nov. 20 in Geneva with the U.N. facilitation.

The committee is mandated within the context of a UN-facilitated Geneva process, to prepare and draft for popular approval of constitutional reforms paving the way for a political settlement in Syria.

On Nov. 25, the Assad regime delegation left on the first day of the second round of talks.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

Hurriyet Daily News

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