Russia-backed Syria constitution talks begin in Geneva

The Guardian | : Russia will underscore its role in the political future of Syria as the 150-strong Syrian constitutional committee meets for the first time under UN auspices to chart a political settlement to end the eight-and-a-half-year civil war.

The meeting – a key proposal from Moscow – in Geneva is being overseen by the UN special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, but has been fraught with difficulties, ranging from last-minute hiccups over the committee’s composition, wrangles over the opening ceremony and, crucially, fresh fighting in north-east Syria between the Syrian army and Turkish-backed troops.

Foreign ministers from Russia, Iran and Turkey were due in Geneva on Tuesday night to meet negotiators, even though Pedersen had asked all countries to stay away and leave the talks as an exclusively “Syrian owned, Syrian led process”.

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