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Damascus studying Russia-proposed draft constitution

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad thinks the recent settlement talks in Kazakhstan’s Astana were successful

MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/ Syria’s government is studying a draft constitution that was proposed by Russia, consultations will be held on that matter, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad said on Monday.

"As a government, we have received this draft from our friends and are scrutinizing the ideas it contains, and, correspondingly, we will be ready to hold consultations," he said.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a meeting with representatives of the Syrian opposition that the Russia-proposed draft sums up constitutional proposals of both the Syrian government and opposition groups. "The draft constitution attempts to bring together and find shared points in those approaches that were outlined to us both by representatives of the government and representatives of the opposition, including all those present here, over the past several years," he noted.

Russia is imposing its draft on no one and the talk is about the proposals called upon to stimulate a discussion on this issue in Geneva, the Russian foreign minister stressed. "We are convinced that it is time to stop arguing round and round the subject and it is necessary to focus on discussing specific issues that were outlined in Resolution 2254, including the work on the constitution," he said.

On Astana talks

Damascus thinks the recent settlement talks in Kazakhstan’s Astana were successful, according to the ambassador.

"The Astana talks were successful. As you know, the Syrian government delegation took part in these talks which yielded a final document," he said.

An international meeting on Syrian settlement was held in Astana on January 23-24. The talks involved delegations from Iran, Russia and Turkey. United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura and U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan took part in the meeting, the latter as an observer.

On Syria talks in Geneva

Talks on Syria in Geneva have been postponed, the Syrian authorities don’t know at the moment when they will restart, Haddad said.

"We practically agreed in Astana to have this meeting on (February) 8, but unfortunately it has been postponed until a yet unknown date as the international community is not ready for any talks," he said.

The ambassador said that UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura expressed a wish in Astana to have the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva not on February 8, but later, at the end of the month.

"He did not specify why he wanted this. He is a representative of an international organization, that is why we have met him halfway," Haddad said.