November 27, 2017 / 11:17 AM / a year ago

Syrian government welcomes committee to discuss constitution

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian government welcomes the formation of a committee that will discuss the current constitution and is expected to be formed at a congress to be convened by Russia in Sochi, Syrian state media said.

The congress marks a Russian effort to advance a political solution towards ending Syria’s six-year-long war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to flee in the worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

U.N.-backed talks towards ending the conflict are due to resume in Geneva this week with the participation of the Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, who is militarily dominant in the conflict thanks to Russia and Iran.

A pro-Damascus newspaper, al-Watan, reported on Monday that the government delegation had postponed its travel to Geneva, saying Damascus was annoyed by the opposition’s insistence on its demand that Assad leave power at the start of a transition.

In a statement from the Syrian foreign ministry, the Syrian government said it would attend the “national dialogue congress” at the Sochi talks, whose date has yet to be confirmed.

Syria welcomed “U.N. participation” in legislative elections to be held after the discussion of the constitution, state media cited a foreign ministry statement as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week won the backing of Turkey and Iran - another ally of Assad - last week to host the congress.

Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Mark Heinrich

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