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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Guterres letter to UN Security Council announces Geir Pedersen as Syria envoy

Veteran Norwegian diplomat succeeds Staffan de Mistura in the job to attempt to end the war in the Middle Eastern state

As the UN envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen faces monumental challenges. YouTube
As the UN envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen faces monumental challenges. YouTube

In a letter obtained by The National, UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres has informed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that he wishes to appoint the veteran Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as the UN Special Envoy to Syria.

The two-page document was sent to the UNSC on Tuesday, and it revealed that after broad consultations – including with the Syrian government – Mr Pedersen is the choice to succeed Staffan de Mistura, who will stand down at the end of November.

The letter confirming Geir Pedersen's appointment
The letter confirming Geir Pedersen's appointment

“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,” Mr Guterres wrote.

Mr Guterres thanked Mr de Mistura for his “more than four years of concerted efforts and contributions to search for peace in Syria.”

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He said 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.

Mr Pedersen is a seasoned Norwegian diplomat with extensive experience in the Middle East. He serves as his country’s ambassador to China, and prior to that he was permanent representative of Norway to the UN.

In the Middle East, Mr Pedersen served as the UN special coordinator for Lebanon between 2005 and 2008.

Between 1998 and 2003, he was Norway’s representative to the Palestinian Authority. He also took part in secret negotiations that led to Oslo Agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis in 1993.

Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on 20 October that Mr Guterres had nominated Mr Pederson for the role after Mr de Mistura stepped down and was waiting for “necessary approvals” from Russia and the Syrian government.

On Monday, Russian Permanent Representative at the UN Vasily Nebenzya announced his country had no objections against Mr Pederson’s candidacy. The main thing is that the Syrian government also has no objections, he told reporters in New York.

The UNSC has a period between two to seven days to respond to Mr Guterres, but the appointment is expected to confirmed and made public this week.