Illustration: iStock
Illustration: iStock

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a Russian envoy on Sunday discussed “removing the obstacles” to establishing a constitutional committee international powers are demanding to help end the seven-year war, the government said.

Last week in Istanbul, the leaders of Syrian ally Russia, rebel backer Turkey, Germany, and France called for the committee to be formed by the end of the year to discuss a post-war constitution, “paving the way for free and fair elections” in Syria.

On Sunday, Assad held talks with Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev on “forming the committee to discuss the current constitution,” the presidency said in a statement.

They agreed “to continue joint Syrian-Russian work towards removing the obstacles still in the way of forming this committee.”

A Turkish-Russian deal for Syria’s last major rebel stronghold of Idlib has revived efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the country’s conflict, with international actors focused on setting up the 150-member committee.

Under a United Nations plan, the regime would choose 50 of the committee members, the Syrian opposition another 50 and the UN would nominate the final 50, composed of civil society representatives and technical experts.

But last week, the Assad regime rejected a UN list presented by Staffan de Mistura, the world body’s outgoing envoy to Syria.

Instead, the Damascus regime is to draw up its own list, along with Russia, Iran and Turkey, said de Mistura, who is stepping down at the end of the month.

– With reporting from Agence France-Presse