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Putin: It's hard to understand UN envoy’s attitude to Syrian constitutional committee

UN officials have adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude, Putin says

MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. It is hard to understand United Nations Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s wait-and-see attitude to forming a Syrian constitutional committee, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday.

"The establishment of a Syrian constitutional committee is currently on the agenda. When we met at the Russian-Turkish-French-German summit in Istanbul [on October 27], we agreed to make all possible efforts to form such a committee," Putin said, adding that "on its part, Russia has done everything to make it happen."

"We agreed on a candidate list with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he named 50 candidates [representing the Syrian government - TASS], and participated in making a list of civil society candidates. Although he [Bashar al-Assad] is not totally satisfied with the list, he accepted it. Turkey, which advocates the interests of the opposition, also accepted it. And Iran accepted it too," Putin said.

"We presented a list to the UN," he said. "It turned out - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told me yesterday - that UN officials, including Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude at the behest of our German, French and US partners. I can’t understand what is going on there but in any case, the work is in the final stage," Putin pointed out.

According to him, a final list of Syrian constitutional committee members will be ready either at the end of 2018 or in early 2019, and "the next stage of the settlement process will begin, a political one."

Syrian constitutional committee

On January 30, participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, decided to establish a constitutional committee that would work on the country’s new constitution. The committee is supposed to include representatives of the Syrian government and opposition, as well as civil society members. Each of the groups will have one-third of seats in the committee. The UN envoy earlier suggested that the committee should consist of no more than 50 members.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the three guarantors of the Astana process (Russia, Iran and Turkey) - Sergey Lavrov, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu - held a meeting with de Mistura in Geneva but failed to finalize a list of Syrian constitutional committee members. However, the parties announced plans to call the first meeting of the committee in early 2019.