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UN's Ban to Meet Obama on April 11, Will Mali and De Mistura Be Discussed?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's current trip started small on March 30... literally. Ban went to San Marino, then Andorra, then Monaco.

But the trip is now set to finish big, with Pope Francis in Rome on April 9, and President Barack Obama in Washington on April 11.

At the UN's noon briefing on April 5, Inner City Press asked for confirmation that Ban would meet the Pope on April 9 -- and to confirm its April 3 exclusive that Italian deputy foreign minister and American favorite Staffan De Mistura is in line to be UN envoy to Mali. Video here, from Minute 5:40.

Ban's spokesperson's office belatedly confirmed the first, but only to journalists other than Inner City Press, by squawking it to the scribes in their cubicle, not even an e-mail.

At 5:37 pm on April 5, a Friday, the White House announced Ban's visit, mentioning only Syria by name:

On Thursday, April 11, President Obama will host United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for an Oval Office visit. The President looks forward to welcoming the Secretary General back to the White House and consulting with him on key issues, including the crisis in Syria, and expressing his gratitude for the many sacrifices United Nations personnel have made to protect vulnerable populations and to deliver aid to those most in need. This meeting is a demonstration of the robust partnership between this United States and the United Nations in facing a wide array of global challenges.

  What about Mali? Obama's ambassador Susan Rice questioned France's and the UN's plans for Mali when Inner City Press asked her about them this week. She said that for UN envoy, there should be someone with experience with complex missions.

  De Mistura headed the UN mission in Iraq (where he hired Ban's son in law as his chief of staff), then got the top job in Afghanistan. For that, the US came out in favor, through the late Richard Holbrooke. And now Mali? Watch this site.

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