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UN's Ban Extends Barbados Visit into Vacation, Plans to Visit Darfur, Sources Say

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- The reason for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's visit to Barbados is now clear. Mr. Ban is going on vacation. China's Xinhua news service reported that Ban "will travel to Barbados' capital Bridgetown on Aug. 2. During the 24-hour visit, he will meet with the country's Prime Minister Owen Arthur and other officials." But the visit is not 24-hours. It's more like a week.

            It is also being said that Mr. Ban will visit Darfur in the next month, and wants this to be covered by as many media outlets as possible. But after Tuesday's Security Council vote on the Darfur resolution, Mr. Ban ran right by reporters. The longest quotes came from Sudan's Ambassador, click here for Inner City Press' story.

            Eight South Korean congressman have traveled to the U.S. to discuss the Taliban's continued holding of hostages with U.S. officials and, they said, Mr. Ban. Thursday at the UN's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked for confirmation that this meeting would take place. Apparently not -- Inner City Press has learned that Ban will remain in Barbados after the "24-hour visit."

Ban in Panama (Barbados not shown)

            From within Team Ban comes the line that Mr. Ban is a work-a-holic, but was convinced to go on vacation in order to not make other UN officials look bad.  There also comes criticism of the Korean congressman, as being used by the Taliban, as inappropriately tying Ban to his Korean roots, and as making Mr. Ban look bad. Some wonder if this might be a first step toward loosening the bonds.

            Recently, Inner City Press asked UNICEF, "in the seven-plus months he has been Secretary-General, has Ban Ki-moon to UNICEF's knowledge congratulated any other UNICEF national groups like If so, if you could point to them."

            This response came in --

Subj: Questions 25 July 
From: [  at]  To: Inner City Press
Date: 7/25/2007 5:49:29 PM Eastern Standard Time 

 Dear Matthew, please see responses to most of your questions below. We have checked with several colleagues, and as far as we know, so far this is the only message Secretary General Ban Ki-moon  has sent to a UNICEF National Committees. However, we know that the SG is a strong supporter of UNICEF's work for children -- this may simply be the first such message.

            Next stop, Barbados...

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund, while UNDP won't answer.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540