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UN envoy discusses Syria constitution on Damascus visit

By AFP - Mar 17,2019 - Last updated at Mar 17,2019

DAMASCUS — The UN envoy for Syria held talks in Damascus on Sunday with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who stressed the need for a Syrian-led political solution to the eight-year war.

Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen discussed efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict, including moves to form a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution, state media said.

Muallem expressed Syria's readiness to cooperate with Pedersen to facilitate a political solution, the official news agency SANA said.

But he said that the political process, including talks over a new constitution, should be "Syrian-led and -owned".

"The constitution and all matters related to it are a sovereign issue that should be decided by Syrians themselves without any foreign interference," Muallem said in a statement carried by SANA. 

Pedersen arrived in Damascus on Sunday in the second such visit since he took up his post in January.

Last month the envoy said in Geneva that he saw a constitutional committee as "the potential door-opener for the political process".

He pointed to a UN resolution adopted in 2015 calling for the creation of a new constitution followed by UN-supervised elections.

The UN Security Council remains deeply divided over the way forward in Syria, where the war entered its ninth year last week with more than 370,000 people dead.

Veto-wielding Russia, a key backer of President Bashar Assad, has taken a lead role in diplomatic efforts through the so-called Astana group with Iran and Turkey that has largely sidelined UN diplomacy.

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