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At UN, US' Rice Accuses Russia of Quibbling on Cote d'Ivoire, Claims Neutrality

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on Tuesday accused Russia of “quibbling with resolutions” on Cote d'Ivoire which it had voted for, and responded to Russia's demand for a “correction” of her statement that the presence in the Security Council of diplomats selected by Laurent Gbagbo did not “endorse or refute the results of the election” which the Electoral Commission and UN envoy Y.J. Choi say Gbagbo lost.

  Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Konstantin Dolgov earlier told Inner City Press that Rice had not been authorized by his country, and therefore not by the Council, to speak on the legitimacy of the Cote d'Ivoire diplomats in the Council, characterizing Rice's as a political and not a legal statement.

  Inner City Press asked Rice to respond, as she entered the Council for continued consultation on Cote d'Ivoire and the recent ECOWAS statement (and decision to suspend Cote d'Ivoire from the group.) Rice first said, “You heard from Russia, they can speak for themselves.” After being Pressed, Rice continued that “What I said was completely neutral and non judgmental.

  “It was to preserve the neutrality of the Council,” she said, “so it wasn't construed one way or the other as endorsing or refuting the elections results.. simply to keep us clean on that point.”

  Of Dolgov, Rice said “He is free to object in his national capacity and make a point of order. No one else did. I think it was a plain statement of what is right.”

Susan Rice previously on Darfur, Russian correction not shown

 Thought: It was an indirect and procedural way of asserting the position that Laurent Gbagbo is no longer the legitimate head of state of Cote d'Ivoire. One can understand why Russia would object -- calling it a "political rather than a legal statement" -- while understanding why Rice would make such a point “for the record” or “to keep us clean on that point.”

  Will the record in fact be corrected in some way, as Russia requested? Dolgov told Inner City Press he was checking with Russia's lawyers. Watch this site.

Footnote: what is not known is why Rice and the US Mission have not spoken out or called for a Council meeting about first the 10 SPLM soldiers killed last week -- Inner City Press' request for comment remains unresponded to -- and now the SPLM's call for a Security Council investigation into Khartoum's continued bombing of Western Bahr al Ghazal State. Watch this site.

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On Cote d'Ivoire, Russia Chides Ban's Choi, Reiterates that Susan Rice Should be Corrected, Has AU Not ECOWAS Focus

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- On Cote d'Ivoire, “Mr. Choi went beyond his mandate,” Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Konstantin Dolgov told the Press on Tuesday.

  He said the UN was to certify results, not name a winner. Dolgov said that in closed door consultations, appearing by video from the ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, Mr. Choi acknowledged as much.

  Some wonder if Russia's open critique of Choi Young-jin, a close ally of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, might have some bearing on Russia's needed support for a second term as S-G for Mr. Ban.

Inner City Press asked Dolgov about Russia's objection, first reported by Inner City Press, to US Ambassador Susan Rice's statement in the open meeting that the presence in the chamber of Cote d'Ivoire diplomats named by Laurent Gbagbo did not imply that they were legitimate representatives of their country.

Dolgov confirmed that Russia has asked for a correction of Ambassador Rice's statement. Inner City Press told Dolgov that the US Mission told it that no correction was needed, even that no procedure exists for such a correction.

We will check with our lawyers,” Dolgov said, calling a correction “necessary.”

Dolgov with Rice's predecessor Khalilzad, correction not yet shown

The Council suspended its meeting at 1pm on Tuesday, to be picked up at 3 to consider the ECOWAS statement. Dolgov when asked by Inner City Press mentioned a forthcoming African Union meeting, to which Thabo Mbeki will report. Another African diplomat corrected Inner City Press when it called ECOWAS a regional organization. “A SUB regional organization,” he said with a smile. Watch this site.

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At UN on Cote d'Ivoire, Russia Demands Susan Rice Statement Be “Corrected"

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 7, updated -- Russia demanded that US Ambassador Susan Rice's statement Tuesday on Cote d'Ivoire, ostensibly as UN Security Council president, be “corrected in the record,” sources tell Inner City Press.

  Russia has asked UN Secretariat to add its objection to the record on Tuesday's opening meeting. There is not much precedent for this; the "Verbatim" section must be consulted.

  In closed door negotiations since Friday about the Ivorian crisis, Russia has argued that the Security Council should not set the precedent of being a certifier of elections results.

  Meanwhile outside of the Security Council, Laurent Gbagbo-alligned Ivorian diplomats told Inner City Press that while UN envoy Y.J. Choi should now come back to the country for his “protection of civilians” - but not electoral -- mandate, they argued that “power sharing doesn't work.”

Look at Zimbabwe,” one of them told Inner City Press. But in this scenario, is Gbagbo playing Robert Mugabe?

Susan Rice at UN, Russian demand for correction not shown

At a separate press confernce at the UN Tuesday morning about the International Criminal Court, it was recalled that Cote d'Ivoire was mentioned as a target of ICC investigation and prosecution back in 2004. Now there are mentions again. Watch this site.

Update of 12:50 pm -- At the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky what the procedure would be to act on Russia's request that “the Secretariat” somehow “correct” Susan Rice's statement. Nesirky declined to answer, saying he wasn't in the consultation -- his office has been barred from consultation since the Council moved to it current basement venue earlier this year -- and instead urged Inner City Press to ask the US, as Council President for December.

Inner City Press has since been told that it is the US' position that there is no procedure or precedent to “correct” statements such as that of Ambassador Rice, which was that the presence of Cote d'Ivoire diplomats in the Council's open session in no way implied that they were recognized as legitimate representatives of that country at this time.

  The Council -- at what level is not clear -- will reconvene at 3 pm, to consider a statement confirmed to that of ECOWAS. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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