Talks on Syrian constitution “better than expected” (UN envoy)

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Talks this week in Geneva on the Syrian constitution were “better than expected,” the UN special envoy to Russia said Friday, adding that a new round would be held on November 25.

“We have had intensive talks this week among the 45 members of the committee,” Geir Pedersen told a news conference.

“Frankly, I think this was done much better than most people expected,” he said.

The constitutional committee charged with redrafting the Syrian constitution in preparation for elections, held its first meeting on October 30 at the United Nations headquarters in Europe in the presence of 150 people equally representing Damascus, the opposition and Syrian civil society.

Subsequently, a 45-member mini-committee met from Monday to discuss the details of the constitution.

“They have started to deal with difficult issues,” Pederson said, without elaborating. “This has sometimes led to very difficult discussions.” But he praised this “very good start.”

“All the members listened to each other.”

He announced that another round would be held on 25th.

The head of the government delegation, Ahmed al-Kuzbari, stressed the fight against terrorism. “Terrorism is a fundamental issue for us. All parties must agree,” he said.

Asked about Syria’s future, al-Kuzbari said he and the government delegation had not come to Geneva to “build a new state,” adding: “Syria has a constitution, an army and institutions. We came here to reform the constitution and later ask the people to adopt it.”

The head of the opposition delegation, Hadi al-Bahra, acknowledged that the talks “were not easy” and said: “We all had to be logical and overcome differences.”

Bahra revealed that government and opposition representatives had not shaken hands. “It was the first meeting. We only met in the meeting room,” he said.

This was a great success because the UN envoy had previously met separately with both delegations.

“We are against any terrorist organization,” he said. But he said he considered himself a “terrorist” on the part of Damascus.

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