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On Myanmar, UN's Gambari's On the Run, While Khalilzad of U.S. Calls the Regime a Scam

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 --  At the Security Council on Thursday, the UN's Ibrahim Gambari spoke of Myanmar and then ran right by the press, while U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad flared rare invective about Burma and the regime's "scam" convention. Looming over each was not only Aung San Suu Kyi, but also Laura Bush, who recently called Ban Ki-moon on the topic. Amb. Khalilzad reference "the First Lady" before deploying his statement at the Security Council stakeout, while the call made Ban Ki-moon announce that Gambari will "soon" go to Myanmar. But when on Thursday Inner City Press asked Gambari, fleeing the Council, when he will go, Gambari said he didn't know.

    Inner City Press asked if he would speak to all reporters, and on camera?  Gambari said he'd done so recently. But much has since changed. "What about the monks?" Inner City Press asked, as Gambari headed up the stairs. Others suggested that "What about Jim Carrey?" is what Inner City Press should have shouted. Ban's spokesperson on September 20 said that "Mr. Gambari has been very willing to come and talk.  He talked to you the other day and he has been very willing to be available on that subject." But his dash past reporters and the UN TV camera told a different story.

Amb. Khalilzad at the stakeout, Ibrahim Gambari not shown

            In front of these cameras, video here, Amb. Khalilzad said

We have urged Mr. Gambari and he plans to visit Burma as soon as possible. It is our expectation that when he returns he will re-engage in a meeting with the Security Council.  The situation in Burma poses a threat to regional peace and stability.  Therefore, it's appropriate for the Council to be engaged on this very important issue.  I would be happy to take your questions.

Inner City Press: Mr. Ambassador, when he goes there, what would you have him say?  One, when is going to go, and two, what message should you deliver on Aung San Suu Kyi and on the treatment of the opposition, and these monks?  What substantively?

Ambassador Khalilzad:  First, of course, we want him to go as soon as possible.  His visit there requires the cooperation of the regime and we urge the regime to cooperate with him.  Second is that of course, one of the key elements of the mission to Burma is the political track, and particularly within that track the release of political prisoners, the treatment of ethnic minorities, a process that can allow for political participation and determination by the people of Burma, their political future. Their recent convention has been a sham.  You saw how not only the convention was not representative, but it has coincided with increased oppression of the people.  So, I assured Mr. Gambari he can count on our support.  We urge him to go as soon as possible, we urge the Government of Burma to cooperate with him, and we have said that we want him to come back to the Council after his visit and report so that we can take appropriate decisions.

            We'll see.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (which had to be finalized without the UN's DPA having responded.)  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent 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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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540