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Syrian Kurds must be given role in drafting new constitution: UN envoy

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations (UN)’s special envoy for Syria

The United Nations special envoy for Syria says Syrian Kurds should be allowed to take part in drafting a new constitution for the Arab country.

Staffan de Mistura told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview published on Tuesday that the Kurds should not be ignored and their representatives must be allowed to take part in producing the initial version of such a document.

Western diplomats have revealed that the UN has hosted two sets of technical talks on a future constitution with various Syrian opposition groups in the Swiss city of Lausanne in recent weeks, according to Reuters.

The Syrian government was yet to comment on de Mistura’s remark or the revelation reported by Reuters.

De Mistura’s remarks are, however, very likely to draw reactions from Ankara, which is wary of armed Turkish groups in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey itself.

The Turkish government regards Turkish groups fighting in Syria an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, an internationally-designated terrorist group that has been involved in an armed conflict with the government in Ankara.

The United States, meanwhile, considers the Kurds as a main force on the ground in the fight against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. The US has armed the Kurdish fighters but has said it would take the arms back once Daesh is routed.

Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) line up during military exercises at a training facility in the northeastern Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, known as al-Malikiyah in Arabic, June 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

UN envoy upbeat about peace prospects

On Monday, de Mistura made optimistic remarks about the prospects of peace in Syria, which has seen more than six years of foreign-backed militancy.

“There is a higher potential than we have seen in the past for progress,” he said after the first day of peace talks in Geneva. “But what I can tell you is that we are seeing several stars coinciding in a certain direction, both on the ground, regionally and internationally.”

The diplomat said one of the things that had given him hope was a small-scale ceasefire recently brokered with US and Russian help for southern Syria.

He said other hopeful signs were the creation of “de-escalation zones” during parallel talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

The talks are organized by Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Another source of optimism, de Mistura said, was the recent recapture of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh after a nine-month battle.

He concluded his remarks by saying “homework” was being done for the launch of a more ambitious peace process, “maybe much sooner than we are thinking.”

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