Damascus Ready for ‘Conditional Cooperation’ with Pedersen

Damascus Ready for ‘Conditional Cooperation’ with Pedersen – Asharq Al – Awsat

Syria said it was ready to cooperate with new UN envoy, Geir Pedersen, as long as he avoids the methods of his predecessor, pro-regime Al-Watan newspaper quoted a Syrian official as saying on Sunday.

“Syria will cooperate with the new UN envoy Geir Pedersen provided he avoids the methods of his predecessor,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Meqdad said, quoted by the local newspaper.

It would work with him if “he announces his support for the unity of Syria’s land and people and does not side with the terrorists as his predecessor did,” he added.

Damascus has long accused international envoy Staffan de Mistura, who stepped down last month after four years of unsuccessful efforts to settle the Syrian conflict, of “bias” in dealing with the Syrian crisis.

This is the first official comment from the Syrian government after the United Nations on Tuesday named the Norwegian diplomat, who takes office at the end of November, to be the fourth envoy charged with finding a peaceful solution to the conflict since 2011.

The Syrian opposition has no hopes towards Pedersen’s appointment. A spokesman for the Syrian negotiating body representing a wide spectrum of the opposition forces, Yehya al-Aridi, told AFP a few days ago that the change of envoys would have little impact on the fate of his country in the absence of international will and consensus on a political road map.

But he explained that Pedersen had “experience stretching from Iraq to Lebanon and the United Nations.”

“We hope he will be more decisive, and immediately call things by their names. Syria’s file does not need any more flattery,” he stated.

Pedersen took part in the 1993 Norwegian team in the secret negotiations that led to the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. He spent many years representing his country with the Palestinian Authority. He is currently Norway’s ambassador to China and has been ambassador to the United Nations.

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