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US, 6 nations urge UN to begin Syria constitution process

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States and six other nations called Thursday for the United Nations to convene a committee to begin drafting a new constitution for Syria.

Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia joined the U.S. in urging the world body and its special envoy for Syria to form the committee as soon as possible to promote a political transition in the war-ravaged country.

The U.N.-led effort to bring Syria’s warring factions together to draft a new constitution under which elections would be held has been stalled for years. The seven countries said in a statement they want the U.N. envoy to report back on progress by the end of next month.

“There is an urgent need for concerted diplomacy and international political will to end the conflict,” it said. “To that end, we call on the U.N. and the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria to convene, as quickly as possible, a credible, inclusive constitutional committee that will begin the work of drafting a new Syrian constitution and laying the groundwork for free and fair U.N.-supervised elections in a safe and neutral environment in which all eligible Syrians — including those in the diaspora — have a right to participate.”

The new push comes as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces backed by Russia and Iran have made significant progress against rebels after more than seven years of conflict.

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