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Amid Indian Pictures at UN, Ban Plans Anglo Saxon Envoy to Syria, IBSA's There

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- As India began its second week atop the UN Security Council on Monday, its Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri opened an exhibit of photographs by Fredric Roberts, "named 'Best Foreign Photographer for India' by the Indian Government" according to the program distributed at the event.

  Roberts joked that such praise was like being recognized as a doctor by other doctors, and not merely parents blinded with pride.

  Hardeep noted that most of his fellow Permanent Representatives were out of New York on vacation -- the Perm Reps of Belgium, Jamaica, Netherlands, South Africa and Sri Lanka among others were there -- so he invited an Indian judge, who in turn invited other judges and New York politicians, including State Senator John Sampson and Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks. There were some Anthony Weiner jokes, along with spicy meats and samosas.

  Representatives not only of India but also Brazil and South Africa, together the so-called IBSA, let it be known that their ministers are now on the way or in Damascus. "This has nothing to do with the Security Council," South African ambassador Baso Sangqu told the Press.

  The event took place just above the Security Council, and so talk inevitable turned in that direction. It was said that a press statement was being circulated for the August 9 consultations on Yemen, and that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is leaning toward naming an envoy to Syria .

"The Westerners will support this idea" at the August 10 session, Inner City Press was told, along with the prediction that the envoy will be "Anglo Saxon," just like Ian Martin on Libya. "They have no credibility," the IBSA source snarked, lumping lead Libya envoy Al Khatib in with the lot. "You can't even understand him, he has no plan."

Hardeep & Lahkshmi Singh Puri, Meeks, Sampson, looking left (c) MRLee

Various Council sources said that in the consultations on Sudan earlier in the day, Hardeep took on all comers, saying that celebration of South Sudan's independence had been premature, that many problems remained and that the Council was not solving them by taking sides.

At the event, Hardeep offered fulsome praise of Fredric Roberts, promising another show with him. It's said Robert when in India offered photography training to rural and urban youths, not unlike another photographer who spoke at the UN last week, Teru Kuwayama, has done in Afghanistan. Roberts began his short speech by saying, "Unlike the Security Council, I'll be brief." There was laughter -- but no reform. Watch this site.

* * *

On Abyei, Susan Rice Says UN Should Have Flown in from S. Sudan w/o Permission

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 8 -- As three Ethiopian peacekeepers lay injured by a land mine in Abyei last week, the UN asked Khartoum for permission to fly in a helicopter from Wau in South Sudan.

 "That's a different country," Sudanese authorities reportedly replied. By the time a medical evacuation helicopter arrived from Kadugli in Southern Kordofan, considered Sudan proper, the peacekeepers had died.

Outside a UN Security Council meeting on the subject on Monday, Inner City Press was told by sources that US Ambassador Susan Rice inside was saying that the UN should not have "given Sudan a veto" over flights into the "no man's land" of Abyei, but should just have flown.

When Ambassador Rice left the meeting, Inner City Press asked her, "should they have flown from Wau without waiting to get permission?"

"Yes, in my opinion," Ambassador Rice said.

She paused then continued, "there's a risk involved in that and we all have an interest in the security of peacekeepers. But at a certain point you gotta weigh the risk of the helicopter crew, if they had been notified that it was coming and the tail number, then the government would have been responsible if it had done something untoward."

In Wau, Susan Rice on the mic, opinion personal?

"It's not beyond them to do something untoward," Rice said. "But the loss of these peacekeepers may have been prevented."

Again she paused, for emphasis. "That my personal opinion, I expressed it in there, but it's my personal opinion."

But when the US Permanent Representative to the UN makes a point in the Security Council, is it a personal opinion? Watch this site.

* * *

Meanwhile, Inner City Press asked Khartoum's Permanent Representative to the UN outside the Security Council on Monday to respond to the UN charge that they denied permission to fly from Abyei, saying "that's a different country."

  He said he would not speak at the UN TV stakeout, because he is fasting. Inner City Press offered a "stakeout at sunset." Video of his answers was nevertheless obtained, and put on YouTube, here. Watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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