Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri arrives to take part in May 2017 negotiations with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi | AP
GENEVA, Switzerland — The two sides of the Syrian conflict agreed to take part in an experts committee to discuss a UN-proposed process on “constitutional and legal issues” on Thursday, putting on hold Tuesday's UN-proposed constitution that had been presented to the negotiating teams.
“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 Thursday, 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.
The head of the Syrian regime delegation Bashar al-Jaafari also told reporters on Thursday that they have agreed to the experts' meeting but the meeting will remain “unofficial” and does not have power to make decisions.
Hariri said that the experts and political meetings go hand in hand and “complement each other” when asked whether today’s development may indicate that talks over other issues such as a transitional government may be less featured in the future.
Regarding Friday’s meeting with De Mistura, Hariri said that they are going to raise two issues with the UN that are “the destructive and devil role of Iran” in Syria and the issue of thousands of Syrians who are detained by the Syrian regime.
The Geneva talks, as mandated by a Security Council resolutions, focus on governance, drafting a new constitution, holding election and also fighting terrorism in the country.
It aims to end the six-year civil war that has led to the death of at least 320,000 people, with half of the population displaced, and more than 5 million leaving the country, according to the International Organizaton for Migration.
Russian-backed talks held on May 4 in the Kazakh capital of Astana resulted plans to establish four “de-escalation zones” guaranteed by the Syrian Regime backers — Russia and Iran with Turkey backing opposition rebels.