Russia Pushes Syrians to Adopt New Constitution as Talks ResumeHenry Meyer
Russian initiative follows new round of Syria talks in Astana
Syrian opposition rejected Russian draft for constitution
Russia wants the Syrian government and opposition to discuss a new constitution at talks in Kazakhstan that have so far focused on bolstering a cease-fire.
Russia has proposed setting up a committee with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, which will be charged with finalizing the new constitution and the procedure for adopting it, Lt. General Sergei Rudskoi said in an e-mailed statement from the Defense Ministry in Moscow on Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said that fresh efforts were needed to kick-start political negotiations to end the Syrian conflict because a United Nations-led peace process in Geneva “hasn’t gone anywhere.” The Geneva talks are due to resume this month after a pause of almost a year.
The opposition rejected a draft Syrian constitution put forward by Russia at the first round of talks last month in the Kazakh capital, Astana, highlighting the obstacles the Kremlin faces as it seeks a settlement to six years of civil war. A second round started on Monday.
Co-sponsors Russia, Iran and Turkey invited Jordan to join the latest Astana talks to help broaden support for the fragile cease-fire that’s been in place since December. Both Jordan and Turkey have influence over rebel groups seeking Assad’s overthrow, while Russia and Iran are providing military support for the Syrian leader.