UN says deal reached on committee for new Syria constitution

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says a long-sought agreement has been reached on the composition of a committee to draft a new constitution for Syria

Guterres expressed hope that formation of the constitutional committee "will be a very important step in creating the conditions for a political solution for this tragic conflict."

There was early agreement on 50-member lists from the Syrian government and the opposition. But it has taken nearly 20 months to agree on the list the United Nations was authorized to put together representing experts, independents, tribal leaders and women, mainly because of objections from the Syrian government.

Pedersen, the U.N. envoy, told the Security Council in late August that the package to resolve outstanding names and terms of reference and rules of procedure was "nearly finalized, and the outstanding differences are, in my assessment, comparatively minor."

He said he was "quietly hopeful" an agreement would be announced before world leaders gather next week for their annual meeting at the General Assembly.

An agreement on a blueprint for peace in Syria that was approved in Geneva on June 30, 2012 by representatives of the U.N., Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five veto-wielding Security Council members — the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain — remains the basis for ending the conflict.