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Obama and Putin meet in China amid struggle for Syria deal

The US and Russia struggled on Monday to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between US-backed rebels and Syria’s Russian-aligned regime. Even as top diplomats vowed to keep trying, US President Barack Obama expressed scepticism that an unlikely alliance between rivals would yield the breakthrough needed to end the 5-year-old civil war.

Still, as Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an economic summit, the leaders were under pressure to push the negotiations beyond the sticking points that have thus far prevented a deal.

White House spokesman Ned Price said Obama and Putin were huddling on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit, with details of their informal meeting expected to be released later.

A second day of talks in China between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, ended on Monday without a deal to announce. The two met for an hour but emerged still at odds on certain issues, said a senior State Department official, requesting anonymity.

The talks culminated a several weeks of searching for a cease-fire between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and moderate rebels that would expand access for hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire.
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