Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has spurned any hopes of negotiations in the war in Syria, calling rebels terrorists. the international community responsed with concern and anger at Assad's speech, his first in public in more than half a year.
Despite the high stakes, world powers seemed unable to reach a deal as to how to reinvigorate the Syrian peace process. Russia and the US did at least agree on terms for checking who is violating the truce and how.
The Syrian army has extended a truce around the besieged city of Aleppo. Moscow and Washington have vowed to extend their efforts to see a ceasefire implemented across the whole country.
Best-selling novelist Alaa al-Aswany was one of the main protagonists in the 2011 Egyptian uprising, and remains a high-profile government critic. He spoke with DW about his work and his struggle against dictatorship.
Peace in Syria is once again on the table. Until now, no conference has managed to find a long-term solution. According to Middle East expert Bente Scheller, that's because President Bashar al-Assad is playing for time.
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