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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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At UN on Libya, Churkin of Russia Tells Western Spokesman Not to Spin the Press, "This Is Where Distortions Come From"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 -- Outside the UN Security Council on Monday afternoon, a Western Council member's spokesman was telling reporters that as he had predicted, the Council had declined requests for any meeting about the military action in Libya until Thursday.

  Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin came out of the Council chamber and apparently heard this. He stopped on the steps up to street level, turned back and said, “I must say to that young man, the President of the Council is supposed to brief the media.”

  He pointed at the Western spokesman and asked, “You are from which delegation?”

  The Western spokesman answered. (Since these spokespeople say they are speaking on background, for now the answer is being withheld.)

  Churkin continued, “Double check with your Ambassador. It's really impolite and rude. It's the President who is supposed to brief the media.”

  After Churkin went upstairs, there was speculation about what had triggered the confrontation. On March 16, Churkin had complained about being portrayed as an obstructionist.

  Inner City Press later on March 16 asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about what Churkin had said about Russia's ceasefire in Libya proposal. She said the proposal did not go far enough.

On March 21, Churkin came back. “Now we know where all the distortions come from.”

Inner City Press suggested to him that the Russian Mission's spokesman should brief the media more often.

Churkin previously speaks to press, spokesman not shown

  While that seems to be the consensus among most of the stakeout press corps, others note that some delegation's spokespeople are more likely that others to tell reporters about other countries' positions, while demanding off the record treatment.

  This happened during the first Council resolution on Libya earlier this year, when Portugal was accused off the record of being “weak” on the referral of the case of Libya to the International Criminal Court.

   Later, reporters were urged to “ask Brazil” if they were making problems with the ICC referral. In fact they were, though not at the spinner had implied. Rather, Brazil objected to the US demanded carve out from the ICC referral for countries that are not members of the ICC: not only the US, but such countries as Algeria and Ethiopia, which are not members of the ICC.

Now we know where all the distortions come from”? Oh that it were so. Watch this site.

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Ban KiMoon Envoy to Libya Al-Khatib's Pay from Jordan Raises Press Questions at UN, Stonewalling Continues

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 20 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon settled on Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib as his envoy to Libya, questions were raised by Inner City Press about Khatib's business dealings including as a director of Jordan Ahli Bank, which is a co top 20 owner of Union des Banques Arabes et Francaise along with the Libyan Foreign Bank, a 100% owned subsidiary of Gaddafi's Central Bank of Libya.

  The UN has yet to address these conflict of interest, instead telling Inner City Press that Khatib will file a financial disclosure at some later date.

  But now another problem that the UN should have foreseen and acted on has arisen. Inner City Press is told that Khatib still receives a salary from Jordan as a Senator. A person cannot work for the UN and receive money from a government at the same time. But Khatib insists he can, and Ban is in too deep, the sources say, to even try to enforce the UN rules.

  When Ban unveiled Al-Khatib as his envoy, Ban did not mention or take questions on Al-Khatib's outside business, but did say that “he is now serving as a senator of Jordan.” That set off red flags, as the UN charter says that anyone working for the UN should not appear to be affiliated with a government.

Ban & al-Khatib in 2007, directorships & Jordan pay not shown

  That governments push their citizens with Ban and previous Secretaries General to get UN posts is one thing. But to be concurrently “serving as a senator in Jordan,” which is being protests, and be ostensibly representing the UN in Libya?

 Ban was turned down by Lakhdar Brahimi and Kemal Dervis, neither of whom work for and receive pay from a government, before Ban settled on Al-Khatib.

  Under Ban the UN has become a lawless place of opaque conflicts of interest, where topics on these questions are not answered, are even retaliated against. Watch this site.

From the UN's transcription of the March 16 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: Can I ask you, on Mr. Khatib, I just… I saw yesterday a clip in which they said he has a spokesman, Bahaa el-Kousy. Is it… is there a UN spokesman, UN staff member assigned to be his spokesman on this trip? Did he bring somebody in from… that he knows, do you know who this individual is?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I believe this is someone from within the UN system. I can let you know. But this was simply to help to coordinate the Special Envoy’s media work while in the region.

Inner City Press: And is he a USG [Under Secretary General]? What is his position and compensation for this role?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Special Envoy; I’d need to check precisely what the rank is.

But Ban's spokesman's office has yet to provide any answers on Al-Khatib's post or pay or vetting. Without any answer from Ban's spokesperson's office, it's been learned that Bahaa Elkoussy is "UNIC Beirut Director" - we'll have more about UN system in Beirut soon.

From the UN's transcription of its March 11 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: On Mr. Al-Khatib, earlier this week I had asked whether his outside business interests in a Jordanian cement company, and in the bank, that actually he is co-owner of another bank with the Libyan Central Bank controlled by [Muammar al-] Qadhafi, whether these will be suspended during his service for the UN as an envoy to Libya. Is there an answer to that, given that he is [inaudible]…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: No, not specifically to that. Just that he is a senior official, and just as with other officials of that rank, he would be required to fill out the standard financial disclosure. So, he will go through the same financial disclosure process as everyone else.

Inner City Press: On what time frame? Has he filled it out yet? Has OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services]…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: He was only just appointed, Matthew!

Inner City Press: I understand, but it seems to raise possible conflicts of interest even as his service begins.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: You don’t file a financial disclosure the minute you get appointed.

Inner City Press: That’s only the UN, that’s an official has to file a form after the person is already named?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: If there is any particular conflict regarding Mr. Khatib, it would be incumbent on him to remove any particular conflicts before he begins work. However, in any case, any conflicts would be determined once he goes through the financial disclosure process, which he has to do, just as with any other senior appointment.

Question: A follow-up on that, follow up? There will be conflict of interest here. Someone going to Libya to mediate or work on the human rights issues and then he has interests in the regime, within the regime, if he is…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: That’s not proven; that’s just based on something that, a report that he is saying. No, no, like I said, if there is anything that poses a conflict of interest, it would be incumbent on him to remove that before he begins his work. He is going through the same sort of vetting process as anyone else, which includes of course, the financial disclosures. Yes?

No. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Envoy Al Khatib Is On Board of Jordan Ahli Bank, Links With Libya Central Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- In selecting Abdul Ilah al Khatib as the UN's envoy on Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved quickly -- maybe too quickly.

 Since serving as the foreign minister of Jordan, describe even some close to Ban as an autocracy, al Khatib has served on the boards of director not only of Lafarge Jordan Cement Company but also of Jordan Ahli Bank.

Jordan Ahli Bank is active beyond that country's borders. A sample connection: along with Libyan Foreign Bank, a fully owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Libya, Jordan Ahli Bank is a top 20 shareholder of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

   Could there be conflicts of interest? Did the UN's Ban administration even consider these?

   Ban previously claimed that 99% of his officials have made public financial disclosure. But when Inner City Press showed this is not true -- even Ban's close ally Choi Young-jin, his envoy in Cote d'Ivoire, declined to make public financial disclosure -- Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban's statement had been “metaphorical.”

Now Ban names and injects al Khatib into a struggle about democracy and free press, when as Inner City Press noted yesterday

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."

  By what process was al-Khatib vetted and selected? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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