Middle East

Syria war: Russia, Iran and Turkey fail to agree on new constitution body

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shake hands as they attend a news conference after talks on forming a constitutional committee in Syria, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on 18 December 2018 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey attended the United Nations-sponsored talks

Talks in Geneva on setting up a constitutional committee for Syria have ended without a clear outcome.

The foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey attended the United Nations-sponsored talks to build a sustainable peace in the country, but failed to agree on the committee's makeup.

The UN says more work needs to be done before it is set up.

The ministers called for the committee to meet early next year to kick off the peace process.

Russia and Iran supported Syria's government in the war, while Turkey backed its opponents.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said more work was needed to ensure the proposed constitutional body was inclusive and credible.

"I believe there is an extra mile to go in the marathon effort to ensure the necessary package for a credible, balanced and inclusive constitutional committee, and for including a balanced chairing arrangement and drafting body and voting threshold - to be established under UN auspices in Geneva."

The new Syrian Constitutional Committee is also due to plan for new elections.

In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russia, Iran and Turkey said the new initiative should be guided "by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement".

Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking to Turkish state media, said the three powers had made "important contributions" to the creation of the panel and that suggested names were assessed.

"The UN will of course carry out necessary work on the nominated names in the coming process," he said.

Mr de Mistura, who is due to step down at the end of the year after four years as UN envoy, has been working over the last few months on nailing down the names of the 150 members who will make up the committee.

In September, the UN said such a committee could be made up of members from three groups: the Syrian government; an opposition delegation; and a group made up of Syria experts, civil society members, independents, tribal leaders and women.

The conflict in Syria has left more than 350,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.

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