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Russia Chides UN on NATO, Ban and Japan, Sri Lanka Not on Agenda

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- The UN should have been more "careful" of NATO, Russian Ambassador and incoming Security Council president Vitaly Churkin told the Press on Monday. In light of NATO's military exercises in Georgia, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Churkin if Russia had gotten satisfaction from its complaint about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signing a joint declaration of cooperation with his counter-part at NATO.

  Churkin responded that NATO is already characterizing it as an agreement between the organizations, and that it should have been disclosed to member states before it was signed. "We at the Russian delegation, we are strong believers in transparency in the work of the United Nations," Churkin said, as he begins a month of increased diplomacy and interactions with the press as Council president. Video here, from Minute 26:09.

  Russia's main focus for the month is a May 11 session on the Middle East. Not wanting to invite the new Israeli foreign minister, now Arab and Muslim nations' ministers will be be invited. Churkin would not say who would attend for the U.S..

  Inner City Press asked why Sri Lanka, the bloodiest shooting war of the year, is not even in the month's footnotes, and asked Ambassador Churkin to explain his country's blocking of a request for a Sri Lanka meeting inside the Council chamber or consultations room. Video here, from Minuyte 10:19.

  Ambassador Churkin said Russia agreed to the informal sessions held in the UN's basement. He emphasized that the Sri Lankan government is fighting a "tough and difficult enemy... officially branded in many quarters as a terrorist organization." This is how some describe the Middle East, but Monday this follow-up wasn't asked.

Vitaly Churkin at stake-out, Ban Ki-moon's entry not shown (see below)

  As he often does, Ambassador Churkin deflected questions outside the scope of the UN and Security Council, telling reporters to go ask in Washington. The month's meetings between with Nepal on May 5, and the elusive Terje Roed-Larsen on May 7. As one diplomat told Inner City Press on Monday morning, it looks to be an easy month, with the Council away from New York in Africa for the week between May 14 and 21. There are no meetings or consultations on the program of work for that week.

  A source in the presidency highlighted to Inner City Press the May 26 debate on the Resolution 1373 committee, noting that soon Permanent Representatives of countries which have not filed the required reporters will be "summoned" to appear before the committee, where lower level bureaucrats will grill them. Should be fun.

Footnote: While the Council conferred on the program of word, a Security Officer rushed out to the Council entrance where Inner City Press was the only media representative. Ban Ki-moon arrived, with Kim Won-soo and two aides. He stopped and shook hands and went into the Council, past the consultation room to the back. The question arose: what was Ban doing?

   Earlier, a diplomat of a Permanent Five member told Inner City Press, when asked why Sri Lanka was not even a footnote on the month's program of work, that "a footnote might not be necessary, watch this space." And so for a moment it seemed possible, if not likely, that Ban was invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter and putting it on the Council's agenda.

  A Ban advisor in the hall shrugged when asked and said, "swine flu." The mystery grew. Half an hour later, a Council diplomat emerged and told Inner City Press Ban had met bilaterally with Japan. On what?

  The possibilities seemed to be North Korea, the race for IAEA director, or perhaps -- as a Permanent Five member's political director suggested -- the situation in Nepal. Ban's spokesperson's office, when asked by Inner City Press, did not say what it was about, only that Ban "has an office there." Ban's Daily Schedule was not updated. Transparency, indeed...

 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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