UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks after a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United Nations expressed hope on Tuesday that a committee charged with drafting a new Syrian constitution will begin work early next year.

The Damascus regime, which is backed by Moscow and Tehran, has not yet agreed to the committee, saying it will only go along with a process that alters Syria’s existing constitution.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – flanked by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu – read a joint declaration after talks with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Russia, Iran and opposition backer Turkey “agreed to take efforts aimed at convening the first session of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva early next year,” Lavrov said.

The committee has become the main driver of UN peace efforts in Syria and aims to organize elections that can turn the page on seven years of devastating war.

De Mistura, who will be replaced as UN envoy on January 7, praised the “significant joint input” from the three powers.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse