Pedersen Visits Damascus Amid Hesitation

The UN Special Envoy for Syria has paid a “reluctant” visit to Damascus, amid tensions over the stalled Constitutional Committee, according to Al-Watan.

The UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Sunday afternoon, after he participated in the Sochi meetings in the Astana process and held political and military discussions in the Russian capital, Moscow, to discuss the future of the talks of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, and the possibility of scheduling a sixth round of talks in March.

Pedersen, who was reluctant to visit the Syrian capital, had hinted regarding the conclusion of the fifth round of the Constitutional Committee meeting to the UN Security Council, that “the rounds were disrupted by the national delegation [the government].” There have been talks that Pedersen was a persona non grata in Damascus, although Damascus welcomed his visit with open arms, saying the government has nothing to fear.

Al-Watan learned that Pedersen had gone out of his way during the fifth round to impose what he called the “beginning of a draft constitution,” which was not on the agenda of the session in the first place. The session was aimed at discussing constitutional principles after it had discussed national principles in previous rounds and did not reach any agreement.

Diplomatic sources in Geneva, whom Al-Watan established contact with, said that a team of Pedersen’s advisors is constantly pressuring him to embarrass the Syrian state and accuse it of hindering the talks and threatening to end the Geneva diplomatic path, which has led to the failure to set a date for the sixth round. Pedersen does not have enough arguments, according to the sources, as he realizes that he and his advisors are responsible for the lack of tangible progress and that the Syrian government finds his interference in the negotiations process unacceptable. The Syrian government sees Pedersen as a facilitator of the talks and not a party to them.

The sources confirmed that Pedersen hesitated a lot about visiting Damascus after the conclusion of the fifth round, and refused to send a written request to visit, simply sending a verbal request to which Damascus responded favorably, saying that the envoy is welcome to visit whenever he deems appropriate. 

The sources concluded that Damascus has nothing to hide or fear regarding the Geneva talks, as there are mechanisms that have already been agreed upon, which everyone must respect. According to the sources, if Pedersen wants to accuse the national delegation of obstructing the talks, he should be ready to bear the consequences of his statements and reveal to the world the truth of what happened in these meetings, and how he diverted from his agenda and tried to impose a preliminary drafting of the constitution.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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