GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they made significant progress toward renewing a truce in Syria’s civil war that would be a key step toward finding a political solution to the 51/2-year conflict.

Kerry, speaking in Geneva on Friday evening, said talks produced “clarity on the path forward” in Syria, while emphasizing that no final breakthrough was achieved. He acknowledged that a February agreement on a partial cease-fire in the country had failed and that in the months since the “situation had dramatically deteriorated.” Lavrov, too, said the negotiations had made a number of advances.

“We have completed the vast majority of those technical discussions” which are a key step toward a broader cessation of hostilities, Kerry said. If those final talks are successful, “we will have won the opportunity to have fundamental change in the trajectory of this conflict,” he added.

The meeting marked yet another attempt to find common ground on easing a conflict that has killed at least 250,000 people and spurred millions of Syrians to seek refuge in Europe. Numerous efforts in the past to pause the fighting and start a political transition have failed, stymied by President Bashar Assad’s refusal to leave power, Russian and Iranian support for his regime, and the mingling of moderate and extremist rebel groups fighting him.

“As we have all seen now, violations eventually became the norm rather than the exception,” Kerry said, discussing the original cease-fire reached in February.

With international organizations and aid groups citing an increasingly dire situation in the key northern city of Aleppo, one focus of the talks was how to suspend the fighting long enough to effectively deliver humanitarian aid. The city has seen fierce battles between rebel groups and Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes, and hundreds of thousands of civilians remain cut off from relief.

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