Good morning, as you know I have had discussions in Riyadh with the Opposition SNC, and today I continue those discussions here in Damascus with Foreign Minister Muallem.
We obviously concentrated on the situation in the northeast, and I repeated the Secretary-General’s strong appeal that we should end the fighting immediately, that there needs to be a cessation of hostilities and that we are extremely alarmed by the humanitarian consequences of the crisis and that we today have seen already too many people killed and of course more than 160,000 people being displaced.
There is only a political solution also to the crisis in the northeast and we are appealing to all parties to participate in this.
We also discussed, of course, the launching of the Constitutional Committee, and we had rather detailed discussion on how we are going to move forward with the launch of this committee by the end of this month. And I will continue to have discussions with the co-chair from the government list and the co-chair from the opposition. And I must say that so far, the discussions that I have had here in Damascus and with the opposition in Riyadh have been very good when it comes to launching the Constitutional Committee, and of course this is hopefully then can be a door-opener, as I said many times, to a broader political process.
Questions: Regarding the Constitutional Committee, will it be affected by the actions of Turkey in the Northeast?
Mr. Pedersen: No, at this stage we have an agreement that the Constitutional Committee will be launched by the end of October.
Question: (Arabic) Will the ongoing developments in the northeast affect the launch of the Constitutional Committee?
Mr. Pedersen: As I said we are very alarmed by developments in the northeast and of course we need to make sure that what is happening is not threating the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria. But we have agreed, both here in Damascus, that we shall go forward and that we will have the first meeting of the Constitutional Committee by the end of this month.
Question: (Arabic) What do you think, in your opinion, will be the future of the Constitutional Committee?
Mr. Pedersen: We had very good discussions here in Damascus on the preparations for the Constitutional Committee and also good discussions with the SNC opposition on this, and I am, therefore, optimistic that we will have a good launch of the work of the Constitutional Committee and as I said this will work as a door opener for the broader political process that is necessary if we are to find a solution to the crisis in Syria.
Damascus, 16 October 2019