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On Heglig, Question of Who's Winning Dodged in DC, Like Oil Fees & Pronunciation

By Matthew Russell Lee

WASHINGTON DC, April 20 -- Early Friday morning the Mission of Sudan to the UN called Inner City Press to say, come to the Security Council stakeout to hear our Ambassador announce our "recapture of Heglig."

  There were several problems: was the pullout voluntary, thus returning to South Sudan the moral high ground they have long been possessed? Also, Inner City Press was covering the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington.

  A couple hours later and a few blocks away from the fenced-off IMF, Inner City Press asked US State Department spokespersons Victoria Nuland if the US thought that this was a military victory or recovery by Khartoum, or if South Sudanese President Salva Kiir was leaving Heglig voluntarily in response to the calls of, among others, the US.

  Nuland had a prepared statement, but began amiably, "Let me start with pronunciation, my guys are saying Heglig, with the first part said like "leg." Then she read out, "We welcome the announcement by South Sudan they will withdraw from Heglig" - now said "hedge-leej" -- "we are calling on government of Sudan to halt aerial bombardments."

  She said that US envoy "Princeton Lyman he briefed some of you by telephone yesterday." Earlier, Inner City Press asked the State Department about the transcript and invitation list for that briefing, in which the idea, raised by the Thabo Mbeki panel, that South Sudan might be aiming at regime change, now by stopping Sudan's remaining oil production, was not raised. Nor was that part of Nuland's answer.

  Back at the IMF, Inner City Press asked the Fund's Middle East and North Africa guru Masood Ahmed about the Sudans' oil transfer fee dispute; he asked that the question be emailed and it was:

"Sudan diplomats say they want $34 a barrel transfer fee, South Sudan offers some 40 cents, citing example of Chad to Cameroon, and Azerbaijan to Turkey. What is the IMF's view of this oil transfer fee issue? And on the impact of stopping oil pumping and destroying the Heglig field?"

  We will publish the IMF's answer, and any thing more provided by the State Department, upon receipt. Watch this site.

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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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