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Ban Talks Syria & Cyprus with Ergogan, As Finns & Aussies Try Out for SC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 26 -- South Korea, Turkey, Gabon, Australia and Finland: with leaders of these five countries UN Secretary General met and issued readouts in his first three days in Seoul. The latter two are competing for a Security Council seat later this year. Ban's Turkey readout said only:

"The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, on the margins of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit today. They discussed the latest developments regarding Syria and Cyprus."

  It seemed strange for example that Palestine would not be discussed. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesman Eduardo Del Buey, who replied that the meetings are private and the readouts are agreed to. One wonders, why wouldn't Erdogan want it known if he'd raised Palestine?

  By contrast, Ban's read out with Lee Myung-bak was decidedly more detailed, devoting seven sentences to North Korea, two to Syria, and a single passing reference to South Sudan, because the Republic of Korea is sending a small engineer unit there.

  South Korean activists wondered why Jeju Island, a world heritage site being destroyed for a military base, wasn't mentioned. South Korean police kept the press away from what was supposed to be a Barack Obama press opportunity.

  Finland and especially Australia seemed to be auditioning for the Security Council seat they are seeking by requesting a detailed agenda and readout. For Australia's Julia Gillard, beyond Syria and Rio+20, which Ban also raised to Gabon's Ali Bongo

"The two leaders also exchanged views on regional and global issues, including the Iranian nuclear programme, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. On the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Secretary-General said he looked forward to a UN-PIF leaders' meeting on the margins of the General Assembly later this year."

  A PIF issue that's relevant but probably not brought up is French Polynesia, which has asked for decolonization, something the UN used to be in favor of.

  On Myanmar, Inner City Press on Monday in New York asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if the UN is concerned that the Burmese government is saying that at least three constituencies in Kachin State cannot vote in the upcoming election. Del Buey replied that if it's for security, it's understandable. And what does Ban's outgoing (or gone) chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, now only on Myanmar, have to say?

  Finland's Sauli Niinistö had a set of issues and thus platform different from Australia's, they

"discussed preparations for the Rio+20 conference, matters pertaining to nuclear safety and security, the Middle East peace process and work on the planned conference on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East region."

  This is understandably less regional top-heavy than Australia, and issues of concern to a wider range of UN members. Score one for Finland?

  In the past, Ban has been quoted as telling particular countries he will support their bids for Security Council seats, then taking it back or "clarifying" it. None of that here: just read-outs as political footballs, more issues with Finland than with Turkey, if you can believe the readouts.

Footnote: On what some call his Impunity Roadshow, Ban Ki-moon apparently did not ask Thailand why it voted against the Human Rights Council resolution on accountability in Sri Lanka, and why still supports alleged war criminal Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in the Killing Fields film and even Ban's own Panel of Experts report as shelling hospitals and killing surrenderees, as a Senior Adviser on Peacekeeping to Ban.

  Ban's focus appears elsewhere: much energy went into publicizing that in Singapore an orchid was named after Ban....

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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