Two-day talks on Syria backed by Iran, Russia and Turkey concluded in Kazakhstan without notable progress on forming a constitutional committee to drive a political settlement in the war-wracked country.

Representatives attend a meeting in a plenary sitting of 12th regular intra-Syrian talks held as part of Astana Process, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. April 26, 2019.
Representatives attend a meeting in a plenary sitting of 12th regular intra-Syrian talks held as part of Astana Process, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. April 26, 2019. (AA)

Two-day talks on Syria backed by Iran, Russia, and Turkey concluded in Kazakhstan on Friday without notable progress on forming a constitutional committee to drive a political settlement in the war-wracked country. However, a Russian negotiator said an agreement on the make-up of the committee could be soon.

A joint statement released by the three co-sponsors said the meeting had broached the issue of the constitutional committee with the United Nations' Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen. Further talks in Geneva would be needed, it added.

The parties were committed to "the establishment and the convening of the Constitutional Committee at the earliest in Geneva, holding the next round of consultations in Geneva and to support the Special Envoy's effort," the statement said.

The constitutional committee is of particular interest to the UN, which favours a Syrian-led resolution to the conflict.

In comments after the end of the first day of talks on Thursday, Russia's chief negotiator Aleksandr Lavrentyev said that "several unclear issues" were slowing the formation of a constitutional committee but did not specify.

Nonetheless, Lavrentyev said, an agreement was close.

"The timing has not been agreed yet, taking into account the upcoming month of Ramadan, it is most likely to happen after that," Lavrentyev told reporters. 

"But I think by that time [UN mediator] Mr Pedersen will be able to announce" the establishment of the committee.

'US violating Syria sovereignty'

Iran, Russia and Turkey also used the occasion of the negotiations to reiterate criticism of the United States for recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The three countries condemned the move as a "rude violation of sovereignty" that would "create a threat to peace and security in the Middle East," they said in the joint statement.

The joint statement also said Iraq and Lebanon would be invited to the next talks in Kazakhstan on Syria in July.

Jordan and the United States have observed the talks in the past.

Russia, a backer of Syria's Assad regime, has taken the lead role in diplomatic efforts in Kazakhstan that have largely sidelined UN diplomacy in Geneva.

Tehran, like Moscow, is an ally of Assad, while Ankara has aligned itself with the opposition. 

The capital of Kazakhstan was called Astana until last month when it was renamed Nur-Sultan after the country's outgoing president.

Kazakhstan began to host Syria talks in 2017.

Syria's war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the war began with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

Source: AFP