In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after he along with counterparts Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran and Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey met UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, they said that the work of the new body “should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement”, Reuters reported.
De Mistura, who steps down on Dec. 31, has tried since January to clinch agreement on the identity of 150 members of a new constitutional committee to revitalize a stalled peace process.
President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the opposition have each submitted a list of 50 names. But Iran, Russia and Turkey have haggled over the final 50 members from civil society and “independent” backgrounds, diplomats say.
“The three countries are coming with a proposal for the third list, which has been the heart of the problem,” one diplomat following the negotiations closely told Reuters.
Turkey and other nations would consider working with Assad if he won a democratic election, Cavusoglu said on Sunday. A year ago, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said it was impossible for Syrian peacemaking efforts to continue with him.
Turkey supports militants who control part of northwest Syria.
Assad, whose forces have reclaimed most of Syria with Russian and Iranian support apart from Idlib, a northwestern province, has remained in power throughout the conflict.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, in comments reported by state media on Monday, said it was “early to talk about” the constitutional committee starting work. He blamed attempts at “interference” by Western states for the holdup in its formation, in addition to “obstacles” laid by Turkey.
Syrian authorities have only ever signaled a readiness for “amendments” to the existing Constitution and also said these must be put to a referendum.