UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that there were heated discussions underway regarding this week's planned peace conference on Syria after the Syrian opposition threatened to pull out because Ban invited Iran.

"Intensive and urgent discussions are underway and I'll have more to say about the situation later in the day," Ban told the UN Security Council about the Syria peace talks scheduled to begin on Jan 22.

"For the moment, let me just appeal again to all involved to keep the needs of the Syrian people foremost in mind," Ban told the 15-nation council during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

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