US says latest Astana meeting a failure

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. on Thursday said the latest round of tripartite meetings on Syria was a failure due to the lack of a meaningful breakthrough between the three principal parties – Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The State Department cited in particular the Astana group's failure to agree on a list of members to make up Syria's Constitutional Committee.

"The establishment and convening, by the end of the year, of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva is vital to a lasting de-escalation and a political solution to the conflict," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"Russia and Iran continue to use the process to mask the Assad regime’s refusal to engage in the political process," she added.

The committee will be tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the war-wracked country amid expectations for its formation by the year's end.

The UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said earlier Thursday the last Astana meeting of 2018 was "a missed opportunity to accelerate the establishment of a credible, balanced and inclusive, Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, UN-facilitated constitutional committee.”