The UN envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, paid a visit to the Russian capital, Moscow, on Monday, during which he met with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss the Syrian issue.
The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Tuesday confirming that the meeting between the Russian and Syrian foreign ministers centred on discussions about providing humanitarian aid to Syria following the destructive earthquake that hit the region on February 6th.
The statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday highlighted the discussions between the two sides regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria to help those impacted by the recent earthquake. The statement, which was published by the Russian news agency TASS, further stated that there was a detailed exchange of views on the current situation in and around Syria, with particular attention given to urgent humanitarian tasks such as mobilizing international assistance and providing support to all Syrians affected without discrimination, politicization, or preconditions.
In his conversation with Pedersen, Lavrov called for the lifting of what he described as “illegitimate unilateral sanctions” imposed on the Syrian regime, saying that they “hinder humanitarian activities and negatively affect the lives of ordinary citizens.”
The two sides did not discuss the resumption of the work of the “Syrian Constitutional Committee” suspended for months. Instead, they discussed, in general, the “issues of advancing the political process in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254,” according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Constitutional Committee’s work has stalled since June 2021, when the eighth round was held in Geneva, but none of its rounds yielded significant results.
The ninth round of the Constitutional Committee was scheduled to take place in late July 2022, but it was postponed after Moscow raised concerns about the venue. Russia insisted that Switzerland, which had imposed sanctions over the Ukraine war, was “not neutral.” As a result, the meeting was postponed indefinitely, and the work of the committee remains stalled.
However, during a briefing to the UN Security Council last November, the UN envoy stated that the Swiss authorities had addressed all the issues raised by Russia regarding the location of the “Constitutional Committee.” He thanked the Swiss government for accepting the matter.
He added at the time that he was seeking to organize a new round in early 2023 and urged all parties to support this effort. However, as of the end of February 2023, no agreement has been reached to resume the work of the Constitutional Committee.
Previously, Moscow proposed that the constitutional meetings be moved to one of five countries: the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Algeria, or Kazakhstan.
The Arab states proposed by the Russian envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, are considered supportive of the Assad regime. They have repeatedly called for its return to the Arab League, raising concerns about their neutrality and impartiality in hosting the “constitutional” meetings.
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.