Syria

UN's Ban Ki-moon and Syrian Foreign Minister Clash on First Day of Peace Talks

The United Nations' secretary general tried to cut Walid al Muallem's speech short

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The Syrian foreign minister and the UN Secretary-General have clashed at the start of crucial peace talks aimed at ending the country's bloody civil war.

Walid al Muallem ignored Ban Ki-moon's appeal for him to end an opening speech that lasted more than 30 minutes, saying: "You live in New York. I live in Syria. I have the right to give the Syrian version here in this forum."

He also launched a blistering attack on the Syrian opposition, asking them: "Where is your vision for this great country? Where are your ideas? Where is your political programme? What are the tools on the ground? I am quite sure you have nothing."

Mr Ban said the "constructive mood" with which the talks began had been shattered and warned: "I hope this will not be repeated."