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No Breakthroughs At Second Round Of Syrian Peace Talks In Astana

Syrian peace negotiators have failed to make any breakthroughs at talks in Kazakhstan, but power brokers Russia, Turkey, and Iran said they would move to shore up a shaky cease-fire.

The talks on February 16 marked a second attempt in Astana at bridging the deep divide between the warring sides and came ahead of a new round of United Nations talks on Syria in Geneva on February 23.

The government and rebel delegations once again refused to hold one-on-one talks, and no joint statement was issued after a final 40-minute meeting involving all the parties.

Instead, Syria allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey agreed to set up a joint monitoring group to try to ensure enforcement of a fragile six-week truce.

Lead rebel negotiator Mohammad Alloush said that the meeting "didn't achieve anything practical," but he said the armed opposition received several pledges from Moscow.

Russia promised to stop shelling opposition areas and to help push for the release of political prisoners, he said.

Russian and Iranian negotiators said the talks would resume in "less than a month."

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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