Global climate talks wait for Zuma, start late

DURBAN Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:23am EST

South African President Jacob Zuma addresses the opening plenary session of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, November 28, 2011.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South African President Jacob Zuma addresses the opening plenary session of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, November 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

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DURBAN (Reuters) - Thousands of delegates from some 200 countries were kept waiting more than 40 minutes for the start of U.N. climate talks on Monday because the president of host South Africa, Jacob Zuma, arrived late in the main conference hall.

A foreign ministry official said Zuma got to the venue on time but was waiting for an African leader who was a part of the top delegation for the conference who had arrived late.

Envoys to the U.N. Climate Change Conference, one of the biggest diplomatic events ever hosted by South Africa, were left to mill about in aisles, type emails, chat on mobile phones or just sit and wait in their seats due to the unexpected delay.

South Africa's deputy president and ministers from the host country's delegation arrived on time.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Marius Bosch and Mark Heinrich)

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