U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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The U.N. mediator trying to broker peace after three years of civil war in Syria said the agreement by the antagonists to face each other at peace talks for the first time Saturday is an accomplishment to be measured in "half-steps".Lakhdar Brahimi also said the painstakingly choreographed conference would continue Sunday, focusing on humanitarian aid -- the one topic the Syrian government and the opposition could agree to discuss. Sitting face to face at a U-shaped table and separated by Brahimi, President Bashar Assad's delegation and the Syrian National Coalition avoided directly touching on the war dividing them -- or discussing Assad himself."It was not easy for us to sit with the delegation that represents the killers in Damascus, but we did it for the sake of the Syrian people and for the sake of the Syrian children," said Anas al-Abdeh, who was among the coalition's representatives. He said everyone remained calm during the first brief meeting at which only Brahimi spoke. Homsi said there were about 800 Syrian families still in the old city, under blockade for the past 20 months.
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