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At UN, As Italy Brags of Feltman Talk, Other Meetings UNdisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9, updated 4:18 pm -- It was a week ago that Jeffrey Feltman was sworn in by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as chief of his Department of Political Affairs. And now, strangely, comes this "news" --

"The Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Cesare Maria Ragaglini, met today with the new Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, an American national, who has been in the position for one week now."

   Was there something more significant about Italy's meeting with Feltman than other countries'? Rather than speculate, Inner City Press immediately put in a question to Mr. Feltman and his spokesman:

I've just received the Italian Perm Rep's press release about this meeting with USG Feltman, and I'm thinking of writing about it. So I wanted to ask: how many other Perm Reps has USG Feltman met with in his first week (or, if applicable, since March 28, 2012)? Which ones? Are there read-outs? Also, does USG Feltman have any comment on the Wikileaked cable about (not) moving the Hariri tribunal to Malta, reported in today in Malta (in Malta Today)?

  As of 4 pm there had been no substantive answer, beyond to DPA's credit a request for the full text of what the Italian Mission sent out - but if and when there is one, we'll report it. [See below]

  For now we note that the Italian Mission seems to have a different standard of newsworthiness, or of diplomatic discretion, than other countries' mission to the UN.

  For example last month then the Force Commanders of UN Peacekeeping Mission can to headquarters, Cesare Maria Ragaglini put out a press release that he had me with he UN Mission in Lebanon's Force Commander -- who is Italian. But Feltman to our knowledge is not. Does Cesare Maria Ragaglini not meet with other Under Secretaries General?

  During that week of Force Commanders, many of the other military men in town met with their countries' missions, whether India or Nigeria or the like, but no one else issued a press release.

Still the questions to Feltman and his spokesman remained outstanding.

Update of 4:18 pm -- USG Feltman's spokesman returned at 4:14 with this:

"Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Matthew.  USG Feltman has a full schedule, including meetings daily with Permanent Representatives, among these courtesy calls given his recent assumption of his post.  It's not our practice to provide lists of those meetings or readouts.  Nothing to respond on your last question."

 And there you have it.

Footnote: after Inner City Press wrote its review of Feltman's swearing in, here, it's been pointed out that he had read the UN Charter before, and was just re-reading it. Duly noted, and the upcoming Balkans trip will be covered with interest.

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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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