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At UN, of Somalia and Sandwiches, Susan Rice at France's Shindig

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

UNITED NATIONS, January 30 -- A week after Sudan's mission to the UN invited hundreds of guests to a river-view reception to celebrate its take-over of the Group of 77 UN voting bloc, France's mission held a relatively smaller and more exclusive shindig, to mark the end of its Security Council presidency. Sudan's event was inside UN headquarters, catered by Aramark in the Delegates' Dining Room, complete with lobster tails and a Sudanese flag made of ice.  France invited Council Ambassadors and select bureaucrats and journalists to its 44th floor office a block from the UN in 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

   "This is from the best caterer in New York," French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said, gesturing at the macaroons and chiding a reporter who confused them with meringue. Waiters, one of them German, circulated with champagne. The buzz of the evening was the wait for Susan Rice.  We have to tell her, Ripert said, that most Ambassadors leave after the first hour.

   Hour three of the reception approached when Susan Rice showed up. Jounalists quickly swarmed around her. Her staff had promised Q&A outside the Council in the morning, which then never took place. But now the questions were personal. One reporter asked if her husband worked at NBC. Ms. Rice shook her head. ABC, she said, with George Stephanopoulos. She noted that she is the only female Permanent Representative on the Council.

   Inner City Press asked about Somalia, the incongruity of the Obama administration being less willing to vote to send UN peacekeepers to that country that Bush in his final days. 

   Ms. Rice asked, why incongruous? The US has a history in Somalia. And so does Susan Rice.

Susan Rice with UN's Asha Rose Migiro, UN peacekeepers to Somalia not shown

  When Inner City Press asked about the Somali Transitional Federal Government's loss of control of Baidoa, Rice said, what is this, a press conference? She's yet to hold one. We hope to explore these issue on the record at the stakeout, and not then at receptions. At this one, Rice jokingly asked for canape recommendations; Inner City Press noted again that Zagat's Mark Kornblau is said to be the pick for the US Mission's spokesman, as memorialized for now in this one and only report. To that we can add this tidbit from a source inside the mission: the Zagats are big donors to the Democratic Party.

   Rice's deputy Alejandro Wolff, who also attended last week's Sudan event, chatted with UK Permanent Representative John Sawers, then with Ripert in French about the wonders of Los Angeles. Ripert said that during France's six months atop the European Union, there were 650 meetings of internal coordination. "C'est un travail de fou," he said: it's work for a crazy man. The UN's head of management Angela Kane came and went. Outside the city lights swirled. It felt like a new era.

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

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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