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Russia’s first deputy UN envoy urges West to help build trust among sides in Syria

The diplomat reaffirmed Russia’s support to UN Envoy Geir Pedersen’s efforts

UNITED NATIONS, February 10. /TASS /. Western nations should help to build trust among the sides represented in the Syrian Constitutional Committee, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy told TASS on Tuesday.

Commenting on an earlier statement by UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, who described the fifth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee as a "disappointment" and "a missed opportunity," the Russian diplomat said it was "the only format, which is working and has no alternative."

"At the moment, we need trust between the sides, and Western nations could assist it, if they work with the opposition properly and offer constructive incentives to Damascus."

The diplomat reaffirmed Russia’s support to Pedersen’s efforts, adding that Moscow has been assisting the political settlement in Syria, including within the framework of the Astana process.

"We assume that procedures and modalities of the Constitutional Committee’s work should be determined by Syrians themselves," Polyansky added.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council held a session behind closed doors to discuss the Syrian reconciliation process, including results of the Committee’s latest round of meetings in Geneva. Following the Security Council session, Pedersen told reporters that one of the Syrian sides was seeking to change the Committee’s format, including the frequency and length of its meetings.

The situation in Syria also was among issues raised during a phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was set up under a resolution of the January 2018 Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. The committee is comprised of 150 delegates representing the Damascus government (50 delegates), the opposition (50 delegates), and civil society (50 delegates) and is tasked with elaborating recommendations on constitutional amendments to be made before UN-brokered general elections. Earlier, the Committee set up an editorial group comprising 45 delegates (15 delegates from each of the three major groups).