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Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to a peace summit in Vienna this weekend to figure out how to end the Syrian civil war, even though the U.S. and key players can't agree on what President Bashar Assad's fate should be.

"[W]e are still working through with Russia and Iran the question of Assad and his role," Kerry said Thursday during a speech before the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. "It has not been settled, and we acknowledge that."

Kerry said that despite that gaping difference, the U.S.-led, 65-member coalition against the Islamic State is essentially on the same page about what needs to happen in Syria.

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"So even while divided on this critical issue, the United States and Russia and other countries involved have decided, wisely, I think, not to let that disagreement prevent us from trying to build on the common ground that we have established, build a legitimate, organic, negotiating process," he said, referring to the communiqué all parties signed in Vienna Oct. 30.

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