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Italy backs dialogue with Syria's Assad

27 novembre 2018 | 14.23
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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Bashar al-Assad (L) shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) - Photo: AFP

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad "can still be an interlocutor" in ending the country's almost eight-year-old civil war and in its transition to democracy, Italy's foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said on Tuesday.

"The crucial thing is that the brutal phase (of the conflict) is followed by peace which is immediately accompanied by democratisation," Moavero said.

"This is also a topic that we are following at European level and on which we are moving together with our partners," Moavero said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Mediterranean dialogue taking place at Rome's private Luiss private university.

A constitutional committee is expected to be formed at the next round of peace talks - chaired by Turkey and by its Syria's allies Russia and Iran - being held in Astana on November 28-29, according to observers.

Sweeping battlefield developments over the past 10 months have greatly weakened the Syrian opposition and its demands for constitutional restrictions on presidential powers and terms of office, say analysts.

Significantly, the US will be absent from the Astana talks, giving Russia's president Vladimir Putin scope to hammer out an endgame that abandons regime change but in return, curbs Iran's influence Syria, the analysts say.

Former United Nations special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura broke off his final round of talks in Damascus on 25 October after government officials rejected any "foreign interference" in a proposed constitutional drafting committee, Syrian sources told Adnkronos.

The Italian-Swedish diplomat announced he would resign for personal reasons after years of mediating inconclusive Syrian peace talks. But he said he hoped to broker an agreement on drafting a new constitution for Syria before stepping down in November.

De Mistura had been trying since February to create a constitutional committee as a key step toward elections and a political settlement to end the brutal Syrian civil war which has killed over 350,000 people since it began in March 2011.

The Syrian government insists that the UN envoy’s role, including that of de Mistura's successor, Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen, should be restricted to 'facilitator' rather than 'decision-maker' in the peace negotiations.

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