A Syrian woman walks past a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Bab Tuma in the old city of Damascus on March 14, 2019. (Photo: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations is close to agreement with Syria on setting up a constitutional committee, a long-awaited step in a stalled peace process, the UN Syria envoy said on Wednesday.

“I believe we have made a very solid progress and we are very close to have agreement on establishing the constitutional committee,” Gerd Pedersen told reporters after meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.

The United Nations wants to convene the committee as a next step in efforts to find a political solution to end the war in Syria, but there has been no agreement so far on who should be on it.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said significant progress had been made in the talks, but also reiterated its previous stance that the constitutional committee should be a purely Syrian affair.

Pedersen also called for a return to stability in Idlib province, where a government offensive has targeted the last major rebel stronghold, and said a truce there agreed last year between Russia and Turkey should come back into force.

Russia is along with Iran the main supporter of President Bashar al-Assad, who now controls most of the country, while Turkey backs some of the rebel groups in Idlib and adjacent areas.