UNITED NATIONS — For the first time, all parties to Syria’s conflict — including the divided opposition — have agreed to take part in expert talks to help lay the foundation for a new constitution, the UN special envoy for the country said Monday.
Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council in a video briefing from Geneva he is also pleased that all the parties were receptive to a seventh round of political talks, which he intends to hold in June.
He said there were reports of ‘‘a significant drop in violence, including in aerial bombardment, in most areas’’ since a high-level meeting this month in Astana, Kazakhstan, of the three guarantors of the December cease-fire — Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
But de Mistura also cited ‘‘not-so-good news’’: continuing hostilities and bombings involving the government and some opposition groups in areas, including Hama, Homs, and Damascus, which appear to be outside the de-escalation zones established by the three guarantors.
‘‘Our goal is not just de-escalation but the realization of the nationwide cease-fire,’’ de Mistura said, ‘‘and thus we have a common interest in ensuring that no party takes advantage of any ambiguities to make territorial gains or divert resources to other battlefronts.’’
During the latest political talks last week, the UN envoy told the council he saw ‘‘an opportunity and a need’’ to focus on constitutional and legal issues because no party to the conflict ‘‘will accept a constitutional, legal, or institutional vacuum in Syria before, during, or after any negotiated transitional political process.’’
De Mistura stressed that the UN isn’t seeking to draft a new constitution, which must remain the right of the Syrian people. ‘‘We are laying foundations for the time when the Syrians can do that,’’ he said.
De Mistura said he informed the parties during separate meetings with them that he intended to establish a consultative process to examine these issues. With their input, he said, the process is already ‘‘up and running.’’
De Mistura said UN experts held separate meetings last Thursday and Friday with experts from the government, the official opposition delegation to the Geneva political talks, and rival opposition delegations from Moscow and Cairo.
The UN envoy said ‘‘constructive discussions’’ were also held on how experts from the Moscow and Cairo delegations might join expert meetings of the official opposition delegation.
‘‘We should encourage them to make this a reality during the next round,’’ de Misutra said. ‘This would send an important new signal of opposition unity.’’
In a separate development Monday, President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations called on the UN and aid agencies to shift focus in how they support Syrians in need by boosting support for roads, schools, and hospitals in neighboring countries that have been overwhelmed by millions of refugees.
Speaking in Jordan, host to some 660,000 Syrian refugees, Nikki Haley argued that lack of coordination among aid agencies has led to duplicated efforts and inefficiencies after seven years of civil war. She drew a distinction between short-term humanitarian aid — like food and health supplies — and development assistance that allows countries to boost their infrastructure to accommodate the conflict’s uprooted civilians.
‘‘You've got a lot of different organizations trying to do the same thing,’’ Haley said. ‘‘We need to bring in the development organizations more.’’
Haley, who is touring refugee camps and cross-border aid missions on a trip to Jordan and Turkey, said she planned to work on changing the situation when she returns, starting at a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
She said she would press countries to provide more money directly to Jordan, rather than funneling it through aid organizations.
The ambassador’s call for reform reflected the unpleasant reality that after years of bloodshed, Syria’s civil war shows few signs of ending.
Neighboring countries that have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis had hoped the situation would be temporary and that peace would allow Syrians to return home.
Now these governments are confronting the possibility of hosting hundreds of thousands people for the extended future and what that would mean for strained health care and education systems, and transportation and electric grids.
‘‘We don’t know how long this conflict’s going to last,’’ Haley said before flying to Turkey. ‘‘What we do know is that whether it’s Jordan, whether it’s Turkey, the sustainability of the situation as it is should keep evolving.’’
Haley, who met Syrian refugees in Jordan and discussed the issue with King Abdullah II, appeared to adopt Jordan’s argument for greater infrastructure funding. Jordan has long insisted that as a host for Syrian refugees who would otherwise continue on to Europe or elsewhere, the least the international community can do is contribute generously.