The US and Russia welcomed an invitation from the UN’s special envoy to Syria on Wednesday to participate in a third round of Syrian Constitutional Committee talks in Geneva later this month. 

At an online meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Geir Pedersen urged parties to attend the meeting “in good faith and without preconditions.”

“I continue to encourage all committee members to come to Geneva ready to engage in earnest on the substance, on the basis of the agenda that the co-chairs have agreed, without of course any preconditions,” he said.

He praised Turkish-Russian coordination in northwestern Syria, warning of human and social effects of the coronavirus on civilians.

– US envoy asks parties to go beyond previous discussions

American UN envoy Kelly Craft invited delegations to “go beyond the previous discussions and directly discuss constitutional reforms.”

She stressed that the Donald Trump administration fully supports Pedersen in his efforts to facilitate the committee’s desire to draft a new constitution.

Also, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, underlined the importance of maintaining political dialogue and said Russia continues to have a special representative in the committee and provide necessary support to Syrians.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, a new round of Syrian peace talks is set to begin Aug. 24.

The last round of talks failed to start on Nov. 29 because an agreement on the agenda could not be reached, Pedersen told journalists at the time.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

More than 5 million civilians have become refugees. Turkey hosts 3.6 million, more than any country in the world.

The constitutional review committee is made up of 150 delegates divided equally among the regime, the opposition and civil society and its “small body,” which consists of 45 members, will take part in next week’s meeting.

Constitutional review is a central part of the UN’s peace plan for Syria, which was defined by Security Council resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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