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Syria constitutional talks end without consensus on agenda - U.N. envoy

Syria constitutional talks end without consensus on agenda - U.N. envoy
U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen speaks to the media about the Syrian Constitutional Committee a the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland November 29, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse   -   Copyright  DENIS BALIBOUSE(Reuters)
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GENEVA (Reuters) – A second week-long round of Syrian talks has ended without a meeting of the group of 45 delegates meant to be negotiating on the constitution, United Nations Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said on Friday.

The Syrian government and opposition co-chairs were unable to agree on agenda for the constitutional talks, he told reporters. “We have been trying to reach consensus but as I said we are not there yet.”

The talks are meant to be a step forward in what the U.N. says will be a long road to political rapprochement, followed by elections. But experts question whether President Bashar al-Assad will be willing to cede much in any negotiations after his Russian- and Iranian-back forces recaptured large areas of the country in offensives against rebels and militants since 2015.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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