The U.S., U.K and European Union welcomed the establishment of a Syrian constitutional committee as part of the Astana process initiated by Turkey, Russia and Iran, in coordination with the United Nations.
"While much work remains to be done, this is an encouraging step toward reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2254. We appreciate the work of the U.N. secretary-general, U.N. Envoy [Geir] Pedersen, Turkey, Russia, and the members of the small group in achieving this result. We will continue to strongly support the work of U.N. Special Envoy Pedersen to advance the political process and all other elements as called for in UNSCR 2254," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Monday in a statement.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday the formation of a constitutional committee for Syria, a long-awaited step to find a political solution to the 8-year civil war.
"I am pleased to announce the agreement of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian Negotiations Commission for a credible, balanced and inclusive constitutional committee that will be facilitated by the U.N. in Geneva," Guterres told reporters following the 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York.
He said the committee would be convened in the coming weeks.
"The constitutional committee's launch and work must be accompanied by concrete actions to build trust and confidence as my special envoy discharges his mandate to facilitate a broader political process forward," Guterres said, thanking Turkey, Russia and Iran for diplomatic efforts to form the group. At a summit on Syria with Russia and Iran hosted by Turkey earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the participants would urge the constitutional committee to begin work as soon as possible.
"After eight years of horrendous conflict, this is a welcome first step toward the peace that the Syrian people so desperately need. The regime and its backers must now show that they are committed to finding a resolution to this conflict, by engaging in good faith with the constitutional committee," U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement on Monday. "Alongside this, all parties need to return urgently to the previously agreed cease-fire, and to protect civilians."
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to U.N. numbers.
The EU also welcomed the announcement made by the U.N. secretary-general on the formation of the constitutional committee within the framework of UNSCR 2254.
"The EU has consistently affirmed that any sustainable solution to the conflict requires a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the U.N.-led Geneva process. The U.N. special envoy has the full support of the European Union in his continued efforts," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief.
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