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Peace talks reach limited deal on letting women, children leave besieged city

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    Monzer Akbik, center, a spokesman of the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main political opposition group, is surrounded by journalists after a meeting with the Syrian government at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syrians on opposite sides of their country’s civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, with peace talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city that once more came under mortar attack from the government. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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    Syrian opposition chief negotiator Hadi Bahra arrives for start meeting at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Two Syrian delegations, representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian opposition, are meeting together with the Joint Special Representative. (AP Photo/Keystone,Salvatore Di Nolfi)

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    Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi gestures as he gives a short press briefing upon his arrival to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syria's government and opposition face each other for the second time Sunday, buffered by a U.N. mediator hoping to guide them to a resolution of the country's devastating civil war. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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    Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad, gestures as she gives a short press briefing upon her arrival to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syria's government and opposition face each other for the second time Sunday, buffered by a U.N. mediator hoping to guide them to a resolution of the country's devastating civil war. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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    Monzer Akbik, center, a spokesman of the of the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main political opposition group, is surrounded by journalists after a meeting with the Syrian government at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syrians on opposite sides of their country’s civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, with peace talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city that once more came under mortar attack from the government. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

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    EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - A member of the Delegation of the Syrian opposition holds documents of the Syrian Network for Human Rights showing alleged atrocities, outside of the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syrians on opposite sides of their country’s civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, with peace talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city that once more came under mortar attack from the government. (AP Photo/Keystone,Salvatore Di Nolfi)

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    Monzer Akbik, a spokesman of the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main political opposition group briefs the media, at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syrians on opposite sides of their country’s civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, with peace talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city that once more came under mortar attack from the government. (AP Photo/Keystone,Salvatore Di Nolfi)

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    Haitham al-Maleh, senior member of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Syria's main political opposition group, leaves a meeting with U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. Syrians on opposite sides of their country’s civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, with peace talks focusing on an aid convoy to a besieged city that once more came under mortar attack from the government. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

GENEVA — The U.N. mediator brokering peace talks on Syria’s civil war says the two sides have reached a deal to allow women and children to leave a city under government siege for more than a year.

Lakhdar Brahimi acknowledged Sunday that the step was a small one — he had hoped for an agreement to let humanitarian aid into the city of Homs. But the agreement was the first tangible outcome from peace talks that have been marred from the outset by low expectations and acrimony.

Brahimi defended the pace of the talks, which have yet to touch upon the issue of President Bashar Assad’s future.

“You may gain one hour and lose one week,” he said.

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