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Amid Lebanese Tales of Eggs and Tobacco, Dodges of Fadlallah Trap of UK and CNN, France Denies Camera Issues

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9, updated -- When eggs are thrown at peacekeepers in South Lebanon, the Security Council in New York is summoned into action. At the request of France, whose peacekeepers also got stoned, the Council convened on Friday afternoon to consider a draft press statement. The “H word,” a diplomat told Inner City Press, would not be in the statement.

H is for Hezbollah, just as these days F is for Fadlallah. Already, CNN editor Octavia Nasr, a Maronite Christian, has been fired for Tweeting her condolences for the death of Mister F. The UK Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy had her Fadlallah blog blocked and removed from the web.

The question, raised at the UN's noon briefing, is whether the UN will be sending anyone to pay their respects. Some wondered if the UN shouldn't have a designated lightening rod, or Liaison to Controversial Figures (LCF). Michael Williams released a short statement.

As the Council met behind closed down on France's draft press statement, in the press pen a pro-Hezbollah television journalist -- we've called him Hezbollah TV -- spoke heatedly about the French UNIFIL peacekeepers destroying fields of tobacco with their tanks, destroying a motorcycle and reportedly pulling its rider into their tank. This, he said, triggered the stoning and throwing of eggs.

UN's Ban at UNIFIL, French, eggs and Fadlallah-gate not shown

  Another Lebanese reporter, no friend of Hezbollah, nevertheless called Fadlallah a huge and “respectful” figure. Did he mean “respected”? Both. Inside the Council the consultations continued. The Council members were to receive a briefing from DPKO's head of Peacekeeping for Asia and the Middle East, Mr. WWW Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber. Watch this site.

Footnote: after the Press Statement was read out by Nigeria's Joy Ogwu, Inner City Press asked if for example the peacekeepers' taking photographs had been raised. No, she said.

  Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud, who denied connection to the "incidents" of June 29, July 3 and July 4. The pro-Hezbollah TV journalist asked about tobacco and "atrocities," leading the French spokesman to urge the UN TV microphone man to swing his boom in another direction. "Have a good weekend," another journalist said. Indeed.

* * *

At UN, N. Korea Ambassador Declares Victory, Came Late to Dark Press Area

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 -- North Korea's Ambassador Sin Son Ho came late to the UN press area, 20 minutes after Susan Rice of the U.S. and her Japanese and South Korean counterparts had spoken and left.

  He sat with Inner City Press, asking where the other reporters were. They had left, but following tweets from @InnerCityPress and others, some returned. But there was no UNTV crew, and therefore no sound.

   Sin Son Ho sat in the penned in press area, sweating. Inner City Press offered him a fan, one handed out in June at a largely Japanese march from Times Square to the UN. “NO! Nuclear Weapons” were the words on fan. Sin Son Ho declined.

  Inner City Press asked him if he has seen the photo exhibit in the UN's entrance about the De-Militarized Zone. He nodded. “My country very beautiful,” he said. “Very beautiful.”

  Why did he come so late to the stakeout, after Ambassadors Rice, Takasu and Park had already spoken. He didn't want to mixed with them, was the answer.

  Other reporters began to arrive. Some wondered how the UN Secretariat could be treating North Korea and its Ambassador this way. The emphasis, however, was on getting him to speak and take questions before he left. Inner City Press plugged the lights in. The microphone stand was tilted.

  Finally the UNTV crew arrived, and Sin Son Ho began. He denounced the Security Council, which he said “failed to bring the correct judgment or conclusion to this case.” He said the Peninsula was now at a “trigger point” and could “explode at any moment.”

Sin Son Ho, at earlier press conference, "NO Nukes" fan not shown

  The first question was in Korean, but Sin Son Ho answered in English. This was, he said, a great diplomatic victory. Inner City Press began asking about his statement, in an earlier press conference, that he would lose his job if the Council took action.

  A reporter shouted, “Will North Korea take military action?” Sin Son Ho replied, “Thank you for coming,” and walked away from the microphone.

  A swarm of TV camera people, mostly from Japanese media, ran after him and up the stairs. A long time UN Security officer tried to stop the camera people, who surrounded Sin Son Ho as he passed through the turnstile. And then he was gone.

* * *

At UN, Korean Ship Attack But Not Attacker Condemned, Faster Action on Lebanese Rock Throwing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 -- At the UN Security Council, it's hurry up and wait. The sinking of the Cheonan ship was suddenly put on the agenda for consultations Thursday afternoon at 4:30. Some media reported that a statement condemning the sinking, and presumably North Korea, would be issued that same afternoon.

But Council sources told the Press that the meeting was only for the purpose of finally distributing the draft Presidential Statement to the other members of the Council, beyond the P-5 Plus Two. At least for appearance's sake, the pretense of non P-5 agreement must be kept up. Therefore no statement will issue until Friday.

And when it does, it will not squarely blame North Korea-see below

"the Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking"

Also slated for Friday is a “quick and dirty” press statement in support of France's peacekeepers, heroically fighting rock throwers in South Lebanon. France has drafted what it wants, and thinks it will get agreement.

Cheonan, responsibility not shown

Even though UN staff were barricaded into their offices in Sri Lanka by a mob led by a government minister, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was burned in effigy, belatedly blamed it on the government, the Security Council has not, and in all probability will not, take up the issue. Until a ship gets sunk. And yet then.... Watch this site.

Update of 5:01 p.m. -- the draft, as obtained by the Press, does not squarely blame North Korea. Nevertheless, US Ambassador Susan Rice said it speaks for itself. No, one wag mused, it speaks the Council's new (post) flotilla language.

* * *

France's Complaint of Restrictions in South Lebanon to Trigger July 9 Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- Of the reported skirmishes in Southern Lebanon involving French peacekeepers win the UNIFIL mission, UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq on Wednesday called them both “not spontaneous” and “only involving a few local communities.”

  Asked about France's requests for a special meeting or consultation of the Security Council, Haq said “that's a matter for the Presidency of the Security Council.” Video here, from Minute 7:11.

 In Paris, Bernard Kouchner met with Saad Hariri about UNIFIL. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero announced France's intent to seek a Security Council meeting but not the timing.

  In front of the Council on Wednesday morning, a Lebanese reporter shouted out to French Ambassador Gerard Araud, will there be a meeting this week on Lebanon? Araud said no, and continued up the stairs with his Lebanese counterpart Nawaf Salam.

  But Inner City Press, later inquiring within this month's Presidency, has been informed that consultations will occur on Friday, July 9.

Kouchner previously at UN with Milliband, now a political Tweeter: what has either done on Lanka staff?

  France will apparently want some sort of Council statement supports its peacekeepers, and denouncing any restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Meanwhile, despite Tuesday's hostage taking and Wednesday's furlough of hundreds of UN staff members in Sri Lanka, caused by a mob led by a government minister protesting any inquiry into war crimes in the country, neither France nor any other Security Council member has asked to put the matter on the Council's agenda or issue any statement on this extreme restriction on the freedom of movement. Watch this site.

 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.

* * *

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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