DAMASCUS (AFP) – The United Nations’ (UN) new envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, arrived in Damascus yesterday on his first trip since being appointed, an AFP correspondent reported.
The seasoned Norwegian diplomat, who replaces Staffan de Mistura, is the fourth negotiator to have been appointed UN special envoy to Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011.
He was seen entering a Damascus hotel and is expected to hold talks with senior officials, although no official programme for his visit was published.
Officials in the government of President Bashar al-Assad set the tone for the new envoy’s tenure shortly after news of his appointment in October last year.
“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 Al-Watan newspaper.
Assad opponents have said the change in UN envoy would have little impact on the fate of the country as international will and consensus were lacking.
Pedersen has not yet spoken publicly about his mission and it remains unclear what his approach will be.
De Mistura ended his four-year tenure with an abortive push for the formation of a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution for Syria.