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On N. Korea in 6 Days, 6 UN Experts Go to Panama, S. Korea PR on Backpacks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 7 -- Six days before the UN experts visit Panama to inspect the ship that was bound from Cuba to North Korea, the sanctions were discussed in a closed door meeting of the UN Security Council Wednesday afternoon.

The timing seemed off -- most diplomats indicated they'd have to wait to see what was found in a week's time -- but still when South Korean Permanent Representative Kim Sook emerged, he told more than a dozen reporters that Cuba is cooperating.

  He also indicated that the North Korean nuclear backpacks on view at the recent parade probably don't have the powers they try to portray. He deferred to Committee chair Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg.

  Ambassador Lucas gamely fielded questions. Inner City Press asked if there had been any discussion of whether sending materiel from Cuba to North Korea and back for repair would violate the sanctions regime. She replied that it was best to wait and see what the experts found in their visit to Panama.

  She said the experts -- six of the eight member panel will go, from February 13 to 15, including the coordinator Martin Uden -- would not be going to Cuba. She said the committee has not heard from North Korea.

Footnote: The conditions for the Q&A were far from ideal, worse even than when the Committee meets in the UN's North Lawn building. At the Security Council stakeout, despite repeated complaints and even a petition from the Free UN Coalition for Access, there is still no media work table, as existed before and during the renovation.

  Wednesday there were 15 journalists and only four seats available in the stakeout area, next to which the so called "Turkish Lounge" and its three tables and ten chairs sat entirely empty.

  Before the meeting FUNCA asked UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit and its supervisor Stephane Dujarric if the Turkish Lounge would be accessible, then reiterated the request once the meeting began and it was empty and the journalist on their feet waiting for more than an hour.

   No response at all. Dujarric was asking another UN official, "in the bubble" as they say, about the fire in the major airport in Nairobi, Kenya, then, during the stand-up at the stakeout, musing about the Clintons. Who's in charge of media access and facilitating or at least not hindering press coverage of the Security Council? We'll have more on this.


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