US hindering efforts to set up post-war Syrian constitutional body: Zarif to UN envoy
Iran Press TV
Tue Sep 3, 2019 02:17PM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States is throwing a wrench in efforts to form a UN-backed constitutional committee in Syria, which would seek to pave the way for a political solution to the Arab country's eight-year conflict.
The top Iranian diplomat made the remarks in a meeting with Geir Pedersen, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, in Tehran on Tuesday.
He once again reiterated the Islamic Republic's determination to help solve the Syrian crisis through peaceful approaches, saying Tehran supports positive interaction between Damascus and the UN to that effect.
"Tehran has always encouraged contacts between the two sides," Zarif added.
He emphasized that Iran has made efforts to fight terrorism and extremism in Syria and help promote the political process in the country.
Writing a new constitution for a post-war Syria is part of a potential political solution to end the eight-year crisis in the Arab country.
To that end, an agreement was made in the Russian city of Sochi last year for a UN-backed Constitutional Committee to be formed composed of 50 members from the incumbent Damascus government, 50 opposition members, and another 50 independent figures chosen by the world body.
In a joint statement issued back in December last year, Iran, Russia and Turkey – which have been mediating a political process involving Damascus and opposition groups – agreed to step up efforts aimed at convening the first session the committee early in 2019.
However, reported differences over decision-making rules and time frames continue to delay the committee's inauguration more than a year after Syria's warring sides reached an agreement to set up the body.
Disagreements also exist over the names to be included in the committee, a third of which are to be nominated by the government, another by the opposition, and a final third by the UN envoy.
In July, the United Nations and the Syrian Foreign Ministry reported progress in talks on the formation of the constitutional committee.
"I believe we have made a very solid progress and we are very close to have agreement on establishing the constitutional committee," the UN Syria envoy told reporters after meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
The comments came a month after the US – which supports certain groups of militants wreaking havoc on Syria – had said it was time to scrap the constitutional committee initiative and come up with other plans.
In their Tuesday talks, Zarif and Pedersen also exchanged views about the latest developments in Syria and efforts by the UN and the three guarantor states of the Astana peace process – Iran, Russia and Turkey – to form the constitutional committee.
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