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Syria's foreign minister says only Syrians can determine their own future

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on October 24, 2018, shows Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Walid al-Muallem, right, meeting with the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in the capital Damascus. (Photo by AFP)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem tells the UN special envoy that the nation’s constitution is a purely sovereign matter that can only be decided by the Syrians.

Muallem made the remarks during a meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in the capital Damascus on Wednesday.

Syria’s top diplomat described the Arab nation’s constitution as a purely sovereign matter that can be decided by Syrians without any foreign intervention. The Syrian foreign minister also accused some states of seeking to interfere and impose their will on the Syrian people.

"This entire process must be under Syrian leadership and ownership. The constitution, and everything related to it, is purely a matter of sovereignty that will be decided by the Syrian people itself without any foreign interference," he told de Mistura, according to Syria's official news agency SANA.

SANA said de Mistura and Muallem discussed the envoy's efforts to "activate the political process and form a committee to discuss the constitution."

De Mistura, for his part, said he has done his best to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

"We had a very frank and very intense exchange of opinions concerning the constitutional committee and the political process in general," the envoy said after the meeting.

The file photo shows UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura at a meeting on creating a committee to help draft a new constitution for Syria, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on September 11, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The envoy traveled to Damascus at the invitation of Syrian authorities and would stay for a "couple of days", according to the United Nations.

Earlier this year, Moscow invited representatives of Syria's government and armed opposition groups to the Russian resort town of Sochi and proposed creating a committee to revise the constitution.

De Mistura had hoped the committee would be ready before the fall, but agreeing on its makeup has taken longer than expected.

The committee is expected to include 150 members: 50 chosen by Damascus, 50 by the opposition and the final 50 by de Mistura. It will also include civil society representatives, religious and tribal leaders, experts and women.

The regime has also insisted the body would simply "discuss" the current constitution while opposition groups seek deeper changes.

Following a round of talks in Geneva, Russia says the three guarantor states of the Syria peace process have reached a consensus with the United Nations on candidates for the country’s constitutional committee.

Alexander Lavrentyev, the Russian president’s Special Representative for Syria, told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva on September 12 that representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey had met the UN envoy and “agreed in principal” on the two lists of candidates for Syria’s constitutional body.

In early September, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hosted his Russian and Turkish counterparts for a trilateral summit on Syria.

In a joint statement, the participants at the Tehran summit said the Syria crisis could only be resolved through a negotiated political process, and has no military solution.

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