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UN Envoy Wants Action on Syria’s Missing, New Constitution

UNITED NATIONS, The new U.N. special envoy for Syria said Thursday his goals in the period ahead are to achieve concrete action on detained and missing people and the convening of a committee to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country as soon as possible.

Geir Pedersen said he also wants to begin a sustained dialogue with the government and opposition on building trust and confidence, to engage a wide-range of Syrians, and to help the international community deepen its dialogue on achieving a political settlement of the eight-year conflict.

Pedersen's first briefing to the U.N. Security Council indicated a much broader approach to trying to end the war and restore peace to Syria than his predecessor, Staffan de Mistura, who spent his last year trying unsuccessfully to form a constitutional committee.

The Security Council has been deeply divided over Syria, with the U.S. and its allies backing the opposition and Russia and China supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government along with Iran and other countries. The result has been near-paralysis of the U.N.'s most powerful body.

Pedersen focused on a resolution the council did succeed in adopting unanimously in December 2015 endorsing a road map for peace. It contains all the elements for a political solution, he said, and calls for a truly Syrian-led and owned political process which he stressed is key if any peace deal is to be sustained.

The new envoy noted that key international players express emphatic support for a political settlement for Syria and agree on the need to counter terrorist groups.

They share an appreciation of the realities of 2019 and that real diplomacy is needed to address them, Pedersen said, noting that currently different formats make different contributions.

In the early years of the Syrian conflict there was a large international contact group, but in recent years Russia, Iran and Turkey � the guarantor states in the so-called Astana process aimed at ending the violence in Syria � have become the key international diplomatic players in Syria.

The Security Council has been deeply divided over Syria, with the U.S. and its allies backing the opposition and Russia and China supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government along with Iran and other countries. The result has been near-paralysis of the U.N.'s most powerful body.

Pedersen focused on a resolution the council did succeed in adopting unanimously in December 2015 endorsing a road map for peace. It contains all the elements for a political solution, he said, and calls for a truly Syrian-led and owned political process which he stressed is key if any peace deal is to be sustained.

The new envoy noted that key international players express emphatic support for a political settlement for Syria and agree on the need to counter terrorist groups.

They share an appreciation of the realities of 2019 and that real diplomacy is needed to address them, Pedersen said, noting that currently different formats make different contributions.

In the early years of the Syrian conflict there was a large international contact group, but in recent years Russia, Iran and Turkey � the guarantor states in the so-called Astana process aimed at ending the violence in Syria � have become the key international diplomatic players in Syria.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed hope that soon the Astana guarantors will manage to achieve mutually acceptable solutions on the Idlib de-escalation zone and also the northeast.

He said Russia shares many of Pedersen's assessments and pledged support to the U.N. envoy's efforts to restore peace to Syria.

The key words that you mentioned is the need to restore, rebuild lost trust, not just within Syria but also around Syria, all of the players that are working on Syria, Nebenzia told Pedersen.

France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said an inclusive political solution is the only way to avoid a new black decade in Syria � and he urged the Security Council to overcome its divisions and unite in helping to restore peace to Syria.

Source: Voice of America