UN names Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as new Syria envoy

UN names Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as new Syria envoy
2 min read
31 October, 2018
UN chief Antonio Guterres is set to appoint Norway's current ambassador to China as the UN's new special envoy for Syria.
Syria has been ravaged by over seven years of conlict [AFP]

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has informed the Security Council that he wishes to appoint Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as the next special envoy to Syria, diplomatic sources told AFP Tuesday.

Pedersen currently serves as Norway's ambassador to China and was previously its envoy to the UN.

"I am pleased to inform you of my intention to announce the appointment of Mr Geir O Pedersen as my Special Envoy for Syria. In taking this decision, I have consulted broadly, including with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic," Guterres wrote in a letter seen by AFP.

"Mr Pedersen will support the Syrian parties by facilitating an inclusive and credible political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," the letter read.

Pederson's upcoming appointment follows the exit of Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura from the role. De Mistura, who was appointed in 2014 by former UN secretary-general Bani Ki-Moon, announced he would be stepping down earlier this month for family reasons.

In the letter seen by AFP, Guterres thanked De Mistura "for his more than four years of concerted efforts and contributions to search for peace in Syria".

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany met in Istanbul at the weekend and called for a political solution to the war and a permanent truce in the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib.

Their joint statement called for a committee to be established to draft Syria's post-war constitution before the end of the year, "paving the way for free and fair elections" in the war-torn country.

Syria's war has killed around 500,000 people and displaced half the population since it began in March 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.