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


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)


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.