By Kamila Aliyeva
First practical result of the sixth round of talks on ending Syrian conflict became the agreement of the warring sides to set up expert committees to discuss "constitutional and legal issues," although putting on hold previous UN-proposed constitution that had been presented to the negotiating teams.
Representatives of Syria's government and opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) are in Switzerland for the sixth round of UN-backed peace negotiations, but there has been no sign of progress.
UN mediator Staffan de Mistura's office declared a first tangible step on May 18: a series of separate meetings with the government and HNC delegations to discuss "legal and constitutional issues of relevance to the intra-Syrian talks".
“The paper that has been presented is put aside for now,” Naser al-Hariri, chief negotiator of the Turkish and Saudi-backed High Negotiations Council (HNC) told reporters on May 18, making reference to the UN's proposed plans to write a new Syrian constitution.
He said that they have agreed to take part in the experts' meeting to discuss “constitutional issues” in the sixth round of UN-run Geneva talks, noting that this is not new as they have had 10 such meetings in the past.
Moscow expressed its support to the idea of Staffan de Mistura to establish an advisory mechanism for the Syrian constitution.
This was stated on May 19 by Russian Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on the margins of the 9th International Economic Summit "Russia - Islamic World".
"Of course, we support it. We support any progress on any part of this large-scale work," he said answering the question.
Five previous rounds of United Nations-backed negotiations have failed to produce concrete results.
Syria’s warring sides have also attended four rounds of peace talks brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital, Astana. The Astana talks have recently resulted in a memorandum of understanding on creation of de-escalation zones in Syria.
The civil war in Syria between government and opposition with various terrorist groups involved, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), began back in March 2011.
According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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