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WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Mideast this week to press the case for peace talks between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's regime amid increasing signs the new U.S. strategy to halt the war is being undermined by Russia.

Kerry departs Monday for Oman. He then goes to Jordan, where he'll gather with America's closest European and Arab partners to discuss how to advance a political transition in Syria. Other stops include Israel, the West Bank and Ethiopia.

For Syria talks to succeed, the Obama administration is banking on Russia's help,

The U.S. and Russia have wrangled repeatedly while more than 70,000 Syrians have died. They now say they're cooperating to get Syria's government and the opposition to start talks in Geneva next month.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

5/20/2013 4:09:02 AM (GMT -4:00)

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