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On Syria, France "Not Sure When or If Ministerial Meeting" of UNSC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 -- As France takes over Presidency of the UN Security Council today for the first time in 15 months, the gap between what it says in Europe and in New York comes again to the fore.

  On July 30 in London, President Francois Hollande said France would push for a meeting on Syria "as soon as possible" once it assumes presidency of the Council on August 1. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius echoed the claims.

  But on August 1 in front of the Security Council chamber Inner City Press interviewed Ambassadors who came for the customary bilateral meetings with the French presidency on the month's Program of Work; the word was that French is "not sure when or even whether it will hold a ministerial meeting on Syria."

   (Inner City Press last week obtained France's draft Program of Work and put it online, here.  One change: the meeting on the UN's Syria mission is moved up one day to August 15 -- "to avoid weekend work." Also: no outcome for the Mali meeting.)

  Rather, the lead is being taken by Saudi Arabia, which beyond arming the opposition has on July 31 and August 1 held meetings with member states about its draft resolution on Syria. At 10, 11 and 12 on August 1, Saudi Arabia scheduled briefings for the Western European and Others States Group, the Asia Pacific Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.

  This stands in contrast to the African Group, which on July 31 received a briefing from Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari.

   After Inner City Press mentioned this meeting in its July 31 analysis the Saudi resolution, it was told that Egypt too addressed the African Group, and added it to the piece.

  Now a participant notes that Egypt just spoke as a member; only Syria can a briefing. But why is the format for the other groups so different? And if Syria, a member of the Asia Pacific Group, speaks there, is that considered a briefing? Watch this site.

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