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Ninth Round of Constitution Talks: Kingdom Refused to Host, Regime Rejected Riyadh

The ninth round was originally slated for April 22 to 26 in Geneva, al-Modon writes.
Ninth Round of Constitution Talks: Kingdom Refused to Host, Regime Rejected Riyadh

Uncertainty looms over the fate of the ninth round of meetings of the Constitutional Committee, which was set to bring together the opposition Negotiating Committee and the Syrian regime. 

With the regime and Russia adamantly refusing to attend in Geneva, UN envoy Geir Pedersen proposed Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, as an alternative venue. The negotiating committee gave its approval. However, discussions about the ninth round have stalled without reaching a decision.  

Saudi Arabia refused to host 

Despite the absence of an official announcement from Pedersen’s office regarding Riyadh’s proposal, the envoy’s conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on March 25th, shortly after the leak that may have alerted the regime to the proposal, strongly suggests the validity of this proposal.

According to a reliable Syrian source cited by Al-Modon, the Kingdom rejected Pedersen’s proposal to host the meetings but refrained from publicizing the rejection, citing its current focus on political and economic initiatives rather than the Syrian conflict. The source emphasized that the Syrian regime, too, implicitly declined Riyadh as an alternative venue and conveyed its refusal to Pedersen. The regime recognizes that “the general sentiment in the Gulf, as a whole, and not just in Saudi Arabia, rejects him”. 

The proposal from Riyadh reportedly originated from the negotiating committee to Pedersen, aiming to pressure the Syrian regime and possibly pave the way for increased Arab and Saudi involvement in the Syrian issur. 

Dima al-Moussa, vice president of the Syrian National Coalition and a member of the small group in the Constitutional Committee, clarified that Riyadh’s proposal is yet to be officially finalized. She highlighted the need for coordination with the Saudi authorities and an official invitation from Pedersen’s office. Moussa added that upon completion of these formalities, the Syrian Negotiation Commission would deliberate on the matter and decide on the best course of action to advance the political process and adhere to Resolution 2254.  

The date of the round is unknown 

Following discussions about Riyadh, Pedersen noticeably receded from the spotlight, offering no clarification regarding the status of his official invitation for meetings at the Geneva headquarters, now in limbo following Russia and the Syrian regime’s refusal. 

The ninth round, originally slated for April 22 to 26 in Geneva, awaited a consensus between the regime and the opposition on an alternate venue, as Pedersen had indicated in a previous Security Council briefing. Moussa emphasizes the uncertainty surrounding the timing of the ninth round, noting the negotiating body’s formal approval of Pedersen’s invitation for late April meetings in Geneva, which was rebuffed by the regime. 

In contrast, Tariq al-Kurdi, a member of the negotiating committee, informed Al-Modon that they had not received any official communication from Pedersen regarding relocating the constitutional meetings to Riyadh or elsewhere, yet expressing the commission’s openness to Riyadh as an alternative location due to its significance. He attributed the disruption of past rounds and the regime’s indifference to the plight of Syrians, emphasizing the negotiating body’s commitment to the UN’s guidance for the committee’s work and the broader political process, aiming to uphold Resolution 2254 and other pertinent resolutions.


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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