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


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."