UN Syria envoy says there’s interest in stepped up diplomacy

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Islam News -The UN special envoy for Syria said Wednesday that key global players are interested in stepped-up international diplomacy to “unlock progress” toward ending the country’s 10-year war.

Geir Pederson called for exploratory discussions to “help test possibilities and bridge the gaps of mistrust.”

Pedersen told the UN Security Council he spoke about the need for more constructive and comprehensive diplomacy to make progress toward resolving “this highly internationalized conflict” with senior officials from a number of countries. They include Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran, the Arab world, Europe and other council members. He said he also spoke to the Syrian government and opposition.

“I appreciate that key international interlocutors are expressing interest in this idea,” Pedersen said. “At the same time, it is clear that mistrust and a desire for others to move first are prominent elements in the minds of many.”

The United Nations continues to emphasize the importance of a negotiated political solution to the conflict as called for in a Security Council resolution adopted in December 2015, Pedersen said. It unanimously endorses a road map to peace in Syria approved in Geneva on June 30, 2012 by representatives of the UN, Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five permanent Security Council members.

It calls for the drafting of a new constitution and ends with UN-supervised elections under that document with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.

He told the council that after the co-chairs from both sides couldn’t agree on terms and methodology for a sixth session of the constitutional committee he proposed a compromise on April 15, which the government said it will respond to next week.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council “the failure to enact a new constitution is proof positive that the so-called election on May 26 will be a sham.” Until UN-supervised elections occur under a new constitution, she said, “we will not be fooled.”

France, Britain and Estonia were equally vehement in dismissing the presidential election.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose country is Syria’s closest ally, said Moscow continues efforts “to make sure the intra-Syria dialog is successful” and hopes Pedersen can bring the government and opposition together for a new session of the constitutional committee.

As for the upcoming presidential vote, he said: “We lament the fact that some countries are up in arms against the very idea of the upcoming elections and have already declared them illegitimate.”

On the economic front, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that Syria’s economic crisis is worsening, with more than half the households reporting “not having sufficient, or sufficiently nutritious food.”

Source: Alarabiya