Quotes from the Syrian peace conference

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Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 12:04 PM

MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — Exchanges during the opening day of peace talks in Switzerland aimed at ending Syria's civil war have been tense. Here are some of Wednesday's most notable quotes:

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"We know that it has been an extremely difficult path to reach this point. We have lost valuable time and many, many lives. Let me not mince words, the challenges before you and before all of us are formidable. But your presence here raises hope."

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

"There is no way — no way possible in the imagination — that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern. One man and those who have supported him can no longer hold an entire nation and a region hostage."

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Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi:

"There will be no transfer of power and President Bashar Assad is staying."

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Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal:

"It goes without saying that Assad has no role in Syria's future."

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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem:

"Syrians here in this hall participated in all that has happened. They implemented — facilitated — the bloodshed and all at the expense of the Syrian people they claim to represent."

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Monzer Akbik, chief of staff to Amhad al-Jarba, president of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition:

"All of what they say is lies."

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Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, which was disinvited to the conference at the last moment:

"I don't have much hope that this meeting can succeed in fighting terrorism, because some countries sponsoring terrorism are taking part. Also I don't think it will succeed in establishing peace and stability, because the countries that created the instability are taking part."

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:

"The negotiations inside Syria will not be easy, they will not be quick."

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French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, rebuking al-Moallem for speaking well past his time limit.

"The contrast is striking, between the colleagues who respect the agenda, respect their time limits, respect a democratic approach, and one representative — one delegation — that feels as though they are not bound by responsibility ... I hope that their blindness and deafness are not catching."

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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

"After the first statements this morning, it is clear that it's a long road ahead until a political solution will be found."

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