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UN envoy hopes for new Syria talks and warns of dire economy

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. special envoy for Syria said Tuesday he hopes that talks on drafting a new constitution for the country can be held in late August, warning the war-torn nation has plunged into economic crisis with rising fears among its people.

Geir Pedersen told the U.N. Security Council that a long-delayed third meeting of the constitutional committee in Geneva is important but can’t solely address the realities the Syrian people are facing, which require “real diplomacy among the key international players with influence.” He noted that five international armies still operate across Syria and many countries have “active measures” in place, including sanctions, in the country.

Last month, Pedersen called for talks between Russia and the United States to help end the more than 9-year-old war, saying the two major powers could play “a key role.”

But the U.S., which supports Syria’s opposition, and Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, remain at odds, with their ambassadors sniping at each other at the council meeting.

Pedersen said it’s easy to understand the “new level of alarm at the dramatic collapse in economic conditions,” pointing to the depreciation of the Syrian currency during one recent week by a rate more than […]

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