Syrian talks at UN went ‘better than expected’


The initial meetings of a committee drafting a new Syrian constitution went better than most had expected and will meet again on Nov. 25, said the UN’s special envoy on Syria on Friday.

“We have just concluded what I believe has been two weeks of successful discussions,” Geir Pedersen told a press conference at the UN in Geneva on Friday, with both the regime and opposition groups saying they would attend the next round of talks.

“And frankly, I believe that it has gone much better than most people would have expected,” he added.

The Constitutional Committee is mandated under the UN-facilitated Geneva process to prepare and draft constitutional reforms towards a political settlement in Syria.

Its first round of meetings began on Oct. 30 with the participation of 150 members.

The committee has two co-chairs: Ahmad Kuzbari, a lawyer from the committee that drafted the previous constitution for the Syrian regime, and Hadi Albahra, former president of the Syrian Opposition and Revolutionary Forces National Coalition.

”The two co-chairs have yet to shake hands,” said Albahra, and had no private meetings, but he said that by acting positively, the first meetings had a “positive outcome.”

“We all had to be reasonable, to go beyond the differences and to go for points that unify all of us Syrians … and to secure a future where love and peace will prevail,” he said.

Naser al-Hariri, Geneva negotiations head of the High Negotiations Committee, described the first round of committee talks as “reasonable.”

Hariri stressed that though the Syrian regime keeps pushing the “terrorism issue” onto the agenda, it should be handled outside the Constitutional Committee.

Kuzbari stated, “We said we are open to making a new constitution as long as it assures a national constancy.”

Pedersen is facilitating the talks but not taking part in them.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

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