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Nations find some common ground at tough Syria talks

Citing a sense of urgency to try to stop the Syria killing, arch rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia join 17 nations in a call to bring the Syrian parties into talks for a political transition, cease-fires and UN-monitored elections.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (L) watches as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands after a news conference at the Grand Hotel, in Vienna, October 30, 2015. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he hoped progress could be made at international talks in Vienna aimed at finding a political solution to Syria's four-year-old civil war but it would be very difficult. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool - RTX1U16S

VIENNA — Foreign ministers from 17 nations, including those arming opposing sides in Syria’s civil war, were able to reach several points of agreement after seven hours of difficult talks here that included arch rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia for the first time.

But stark disagreements, including over whether Syria’s Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to stand in any new elections, remain unresolved, the ministers acknowledged, and plans to include Syrian government and opposition representatives in future rounds of talks, in as early as two weeks, are likely to make the diplomatic path ahead even more difficult.

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