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Despite difficulties, Russia optimistic about Syria's Constitutional Committee

Though the UN has yet to confirm who will serve on Syria's Constitutional Committee, the Astana trio is optimistic about the committee's overall prospects, especially after the United States announced it will withdraw its troops from Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shake hands as they attend a news conference after talks on forming a constitutional committee in Syria, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RC1C28C75F90

On Dec. 18, in Geneva, the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran presented their list of proposed members of the Syrian Constitutional Committee to UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura. The Astana trio had worked on the list for about a year but had not officially presented it. Yet neither the special envoy nor the UN secretary-general were able to confirm whether they were ready to approve the Astana trio's list.

The decision to form a Syrian Constitutional Committee was made in late January, during the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. The same congress also decided that the Constitutional Committee would operate on a proportional system. This means that the government, the opposition and civil society will each have 50 delegates. The initial lists of members were prepared by late July and were approved by the Astana nations. Yet de Mistura's list became a problem, as Damascus and Tehran found his suggested candidates unacceptable. The Astana trio thus decided to propose its own list to the UN secretary-general.

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