UN chief announces new Syria envoy

Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen is expected to bring decades of political and diplomatic experience to the job as special envoy for Syria.
Friday 02/11/2018
The new UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen is seen during a visit to Dunhuang, China, on October 12. (NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via Reuters)
The new UN Syria envoy Geir Pedersen is seen during a visit to Dunhuang, China, on October 12. (NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via Reuters)

BEIRUT - Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen has been selected by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to be the UN special envoy to Syria.

Pederson, 63, is said to be well-versed in regional affairs, having served as the United Nations’ special coordinator for Lebanon from 2005-08 and having taken part in the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords of 1993-95. He was Norway’s representative to the Palestinian Authority from 1998-2003.

Most recently, he served as Norway’s ambassador to China, following his tenure as his country’s UN ambassador. He proved instrumental in restoring relations following the ill will generated by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

Guterres said Pedersen would bring decades of political and diplomatic experience to the job as special envoy for Syria.

Pedersen succeeds Staffan de Mistura, who announced he was stepping down for family reasons at the end of November after more than four years as special envoy. De Mistura said he was making a final effort to advance towards a new constitution for Syria — a key step in ending the civil war.

Chief among Pederson’s challenges will be restoring the primacy of the United Nations’ Geneva talks within an international peace process dominated by Moscow.