U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, left, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a joint press conference during the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi meets Syria's warring sides behind closed doors Thursday to gauge if they are willing to sit down face-to-face after the first day of a peace conference ended in bitter exchanges.Brahimi will hold separate meetings with delegations from President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the opposition before full talks resume in Geneva on Friday. The UN-sponsored conference -- the biggest diplomatic effort yet to resolve Syria's devastating civil war -- opened in the Swiss town of Montreux on Wednesday with heated disagreements among the two sides and world powers. Hadi Al-Bahra, a member of the opposition National Coalition's delegation, said they would be meeting with Brahimi in Geneva to work out the details of Friday's talks.In a vehement attack during his opening speech, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the opposition of being "traitors" and agents of foreign governments.His speech went on three times as long as the allotted 10 minutes and UN leader Ban Ki-moon was forced to repeatedly ask Muallem to wrap it up, drawing the furious response from the minister: "You spoke for 25 minutes".
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