United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has revealed that he has nominated Norway’s Ambassador to China Geir Pedersen as a replacement for UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. 

“There are ongoing negotiations” with the five permanent members of the Security Council, Guterres told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The ambassador of a permanent Council member and other diplomats confirmed to the newspaper that Pederson will most likely be chosen as de Mistura’s successor.

Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about his choice of Norway’s Ambassador to China, the UN Secretary General said he had sent Pederson’s name to the permanent members of the Council and was waiting for their answers.

“I chose this name a while ago,” he said with a smile on his face.

An official said that the UN leader’s Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil and the American, Rosemary DiCarlo, who is Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, are putting the final touches on Pederson’s appointment.

Guterres is also waiting for “necessary approvals from Russia and the Syrian government,” said the official.

De Mistura, who will step down at the end of November, will discuss the matter with Syrian officials during his expected visit to Damascus next week, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added. 

Pederson has been his country’s ambassador to China since the beginning of 2018.

He has previously serviced as Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations for five years.

He has also served as the Secretary General Special Personal Representative and Special Coordinator for Lebanon at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

Before that, he was Director of Asia and Pacific Division in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs.

Between November 1998 and 2003, Pedersen served as the Norwegian Representative to the Palestinian Authority.  From 1995 to 1998 he held different positions at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo.

In 1993, he was a member of the Norwegian team to the secret Oslo negotiations.

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