UN invites US and allies for Syria talks next month

GENEVA: UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited the United States and six other countries for talks in Geneva next month, a UN spokeswoman said on Tuesday, as the United Nations continues its push for a new Syrian constitution. He plans to meet senior representatives from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, France and Egypt on September 14, two days after he meets officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran on September 11-12 for previously announced talks. “This is going to be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead on the political process,” UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.

De Mistura is tasked with forming a committee of Syrian citizens to draw up the new constitution, after receiving nominations from the Syrian government and the opposition. The planned meetings follow a similar set of talks with both groups of countries in June, although Egypt was not involved in that round. The discussions about setting up a constitutional committee have made slow progress and represent a big downgrade in the UN’s ambitions for Syrian peace talks. For two years the warring sides repeatedly came to Geneva, in a futile search for agreement on political reforms, a new constitution and new elections. — Reuters