Syria constitution talks end round without meeting

GENEVA: A second round of talks on amending Syria’s constitution ended Friday after a disagreement on the agenda prevented government and opposition negotiators from the meeting, the UN mediator said. 

The United Nations-brokered constitutional review committee includes 150 delegates — divided equally among President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society.

A smaller group of 45 negotiators has been charged with hammering out a new text, but there is little hope for a breakthrough towards a political solution to the conflict that has killed more than 370,000 people. 

“It was not possible to call for a meeting of the small body of 45 (negotiators) because there has not been an agreement on the agenda,” UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen told reporters. 

It was not clear when the sides would meet again, he added. 

Earlier this week, the head of the opposition delegation Yahya al-Aridi told reporters the government wanted to put combating terrorism and lifting UN sanctions on the agenda.  

But Aridi said those were “political” issues and “not part of writing a constitution.”

Assad’s negotiators have repeatedly prioritized the issue of terrorism at multiple previous rounds of Geneva talks while resisting any discussions of UN-supervised elections and constitutional reform. 

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