Assad, Russia envoy discuss Syria constitutional committee

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DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an envoy from ally Russia yesterday discussed “removing the obstacles” to forming a constitutional committee demanded by international powers to help end the seven-year war, the presidency said.

The leaders of Russia, rebel backer Turkey, Germany, and France last week in Istanbul called for the committee to be formed by the end of the year to discuss a post-war constitution, “paving the way for free and fair elections” in Syria.

On Sunday, Assad held talks with Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev on “forming the committee to discuss the current constitution”, the presidency said in a statement.

They agreed “to continue joint Syrian-Russian work towards removing the obstacles still in the way of forming this committee”, it said.

A Turkish-Russian deal for Syria’s last major rebel bastion of Idlib has revived a push towards a diplomatic solution to the country’s conflict, with international efforts focused on setting up the 150-member committee.

Under a UN plan, the regime would choose 50 of the committee members, the Syrian opposition another 50 and the UN would nominate the final 50, composed of representatives of civil society and technical experts.

But last week, Damascus rejected a UN list presented by the world body’s outgoing envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Instead, the Damascus regime is to draw up its own list, along with Russia, Iran and Turkey, according to de Mistura, who is set to step down at the end of the month. —Agencies

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