Divide on Syria again blocks U.N. Security Council action

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The top U.N. envoy for Syria on Tuesday urged the rival international players in Syria to bridge the divides that have blocked any moves toward peace, but the chasm remained too deep for the Security Council to take any action.

Geir Pedersen reiterated his disappointment to the U.N.’s most powerful body that after five rounds of preliminary discussions aimed at revising the war-torn country’s constitution -- a key step toward U.N.-supervised elections -- ended without progress Jan. 29.

But the Security Council could not agree on a press statement that would have expressed regret “that 17 months after the launch of the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee, the drafting of a constitutional reform ... had not begun.”

A revised statement dropped the expression of regret and made no mention of the Constitutional Committee, which diplomats said was at the request of Russia, a key ally of Syria’s government. But after objections from some Western nations at eliminating that key point, the attempt by the British council presidency to issue a press statement was dropped, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

After the council meeting, its three European Union members -- Estonia, France and Ireland along with previous members Germany and Belgium -- issued a statement expressing regret at “no substantial progress” on a constitution and “regret that the Syrian regime continues to obstruct the process, refusing to engage constructively on the proposals of the special envoy and of the Syrian opposition.”