Security Council to meet as Syria diplomatic efforts founder
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Security Council to meet as Syria diplomatic efforts founder

After talks with outgoing UN envoy, Damascus rejects foreign interference in creation of new post-war constitution

Syrian families walk as members of Russian and Syrian forces stand guard at the Abu Duhur crossing on the eastern edge of Syria's Idlib province on October 23, 2018.(GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP)
Syrian families walk as members of Russian and Syrian forces stand guard at the Abu Duhur crossing on the eastern edge of Syria's Idlib province on October 23, 2018.(GEORGE OURFALIAN / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss Syria, diplomatic sources told AFP Thursday, as no progress appears to have been made with Damascus on establishing a post-war constitution.

Outgoing UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on Wednesday traveled to the Syrian capital to seek the government’s approval of a UN-backed constitutional committee that has been on the cards for months.

But after a “long” meeting with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, De Mistura disclosed only that they had “a very frank and very intense exchange of opinions.”

Muallem stressed that creating a new constitution must be a Syrian-led process and ruled out “any foreign interference.”

De Mistura is expected to participate in the US-requested meeting via video link, the diplomatic sources said.

UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura leaves a hotel in the Syrian capital Damascus on October 24, 2018. (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

The Italian-Swedish diplomat announced last week he would step down at the end of November, but would first seek to overcome Syrian reluctance to form the UN-backed constitutional committee.

The new constitution is seen as a stepping stone to staging elections in Syria, where more than 360,000 people have been killed since war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

The uprising has since morphed into a complex conflict with myriad armed groups, some of whom are foreign-backed.

School children walk past destroyed buildings in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on October 14, 2018. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

The UN-backed political process has suffered in the face of parallel efforts led by Russia, Turkey and Iran, and as the Syrian military has progressively regained control of most of the country.

The Security Council meeting falls on the eve of a summit convening leaders from Turkey, Russia, France and Germany.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with US leader Donald Trump to coordinate strategy, according to the Elysee.

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