Geir Pedersen, Norway's ambassador to China, replaces Staffan de Mistura who is stepping down as UN envoy to Syria.

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg meets with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, September 27, 2018.
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg meets with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters, September 27, 2018. (AP)

Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen will be the new United Nations Syria envoy, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council in a letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity said Pedersen, now Norway's ambassador to China, had the informal approval of the council's permanent five members - Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain.

"In taking this decision, I have consulted broadly, including with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic," Guterres wrote. 

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

Pedersen will replace Staffan de Mistura when he steps down for family reasons at the end of November, quitting as the Syrian regime - backed by Iran and Russia - has retaken most of the country and a political deal remains elusive.

The Norwegian diplomat faces obstacles in negotiating a political deal, which the West has said is needed to unlock its reconstruction support and to encourage the bulk of the millions of refugees in Europe and the Middle East to return.

UN efforts are currently focused on trying to convene a committee to rewrite Syria's constitution.

Pedersen has also served as Norway's ambassador to the UN. He has also worked on the Middle East peace process for both the UN and Norway.

Source: Reuters