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Italy-Ban Read-Out Had No Mention of Marines in India, UN Stands Pat

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 19 -- When Italian interior minister Alfano visited the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as President of the General Assembly John Ashe on March 17, the UN did not issue a read-out. Now the UNclarity has grown.

  By contrast, PGA Ashe's office did issue a read-out, and mentioned the obvious the Italian marines in detention in India for killing. He said he would be raising it to India.

 On March 18, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric for a read-out of the meeting, and if the marines or sailors were discussed.

  Dujarric said he had no information. But after the briefing, his office sent this to Inner City Press:

Subject: Your question on the Secretary-General's meeting on 17 March with Italian Minister of Interior
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 1:43 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

"The Secretary-General called on Italy to ensure that refugees crossing the Mediterranean are treated with dignity and that the principle of non-refoulement is respected. He expressed concern about reports of severe treatment of migrants, especially women, at reception camps and underscored the need to ensure their human rights. The Secretary-General praised Italy for its contribution to peacekeeping, the fight against organised crime and counterterrorism efforts, especially in North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn. He thanked Italy for accepting another group of residents from Camp Hurriya."

   So how in these 86 words is there no mention of the marines?

  On March 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about the meeting with the Secretary-General with the Italian Interior Minister. Your Office emailed a readout yesterday, and I appreciate that. The readout doesnít seem to mention at all the issue of the Marines being held in India, and I know that thatís something that Italy has said that it came to the UN to raise. The PGAís [President of the General Assembly] readout mentions it and says they will raise it to India, soÖ was it raised by Italy but didnít make the readout because the Secretary-General didnít speak about it? Or was it not raised in the meeting?

Deputy Spokesman: As you know, the format of our readouts is that we tend to put in the readouts the points raised by the Secretary-General. Itís up to the other participant in those discussions to mention the points that they specifically have brought up.

Inner City Press: So, since the PGA saysÖ his readout of the meeting says that this was raised by Italy and he intends to raise it to India, is it fair to infer that his position in terms of taking up the cause of these Marines is different than that of the Secretary-General, since itís not in his thing?

Deputy Spokesman: Thatís not at all a fair interpretation. Thatís a very bizarre inference. As a rule, the things we put in the readout are the topics raised by the Secretary-General. Thatís all there is about that.

Inner City Press: Does that rule apply to this readout, i.e. inferring [inaudible]

Deputy Spokesman: Yes, it applies to readouts as a general rule.

  So it wasn't raised or mentioned by Ban Ki-moon?

    As the Italian delegation left the UN, Inner City Press tweeted a photograph marveling at the convoy (which was larger that that for the President of Madagascar earlier in the day).  While it was pointed out that several of the vehicles were US security, it was the Maserati Inner City Press was particularly pointing at...

  Back on February 13 Inner City Press asked: what does it take to get UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, some have asked, to change his position? Apparently a call from Italy's foreign minister Emma Bonino, they say, and an impending meeting with the European Union's Cathy Ashton.

  Earlier this week the UN characterized as a "bilateral issue" the detention of two Italian marines in India, for shooting two fishermen they mistook for pirates.

   This gave rise to a flurry of outrage and activity in Italy. In New York, Italy's Mission to the UN tweeted on February 12 that at the EU coordination meeting, Italy got support.

  At the February 13 UN noon briefing, three separate Italian correspondents asked about the issue. (One wondered if one of them had also raised the issue in Ban's "secret" Q&A session with insider scribes, click here for that.)

   Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky had a written statement, now expressing concern and saying the issue could have wider import: no longer bilateral. So that is what it takes.

  (By contrast, on February 12 a demonstration of Tamils protested Ban Ki-moon's (in) action on killings in Sri Lanka. Inner City Press tweeted photo here. UN security officers, one a Sinhalese Sri Lankan, stared across First Avenue at them. There was no meeting, no change of position. Inner City Press continues and will continue to cover the UN's post Sri Lanka failure "Rights Up Front" initiative.
  Some also note that the UN stayed away from the issue of the Indian diplomat Khobragade whom the US arrested, strip searched and says it will re-arrest is she returns, on a dispute about payment to her housekeeper. Did India make enough calls to the UN? There are other comparisons.

 There's also this Italy - UN - US Digital Millennium Copyright Act censorship related news, with old Sri Lanka related photo, here, in Italian.

    In other Italian news, alongside foreign minister Bonino's calls, prime minister Letta is reportedly set to resign. Back in September, as reported by Inner City Press, Letta gallivanted around New York. From Media Alerts sent out by the Italian Mission to the UN:

September 24: "We are pleased to confirm that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will hold a stakeout in the UN Rose Garden, TODAY, Tuesday September 24, following the address of the President of the United States of America."

The connection to Obama's speech was unclear. Also September 24:

"We are glad to inform that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will meet the press TODAY AT 12:15 PM outside the New York Times building located at 242 West 41st between 7th and 8th Avenues."

The next day, Letta was back in the UN Rose Garden, apparently looking through rose-colored glasses:

"Please be advised that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will hold a possible stakeout in the Rose Garden of the UN, tomorrow, Wednesday, September 25, following his address to the UN General Assembly, at approximately 1 pm."

Also on September 25 Letta Occupied Wall Street, in his way, with the so-called (and once self-described) Money Honey:

"8.20-10.15 Meeting at the New York Stock Exchange with NYSE delegation headed by CEO Niederaurer (Statement, Opening Bell, visit to the trading floor, interview with Ms. Maria Bartiromo for 'Closing Bell' show) (2 Broad Street)"

And then it all wrapped up:

"The concluding press conference of Prime Minister, Hon. Enrico Letta will be held, as scheduled, tomorrow Thursday 26 September at 1:20 pm at the Italian Academy, Columbia University (1161 Amsterdam Avenue)."

While Letta was up to this in New York, also meeting with Hassan Rouhani, his support at home was falling apart even then. And now, he's about to resign. What about the sailors? Watch this site.


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