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On  Indian Minister Krishna Hits NY on UN Seat, Not Veto or Student Surveillance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 9 -- With Indian External Affairs minister S.M. Krishna coming to New York for a day and a half, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri briefed the Press on his minister's program, with a heavy emphasis on UN Security Council reform.

  Surprisingly, Krishna has no meeting scheduled with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, nor with any US official to discuss the the situation, including ankle bracelets, facing Indian students from the closed down Tri Valley University, an issue Krishna has said he will pursue with the US.

  Rather, Krishna will meet with fellow “G4” foreign ministers of Brazil, Japan and Germany, in town for a Security Council debate sponsored by Brazil on security and development. The four have scheduled a short press availability for Friday after the Security Council meeting.

  Hardeep Singh Puri continues to predict Security Council reform, or a vote, by early 2012. Wednesday he said that the question of having veto power could be deferred until after new permanent seats were given out, arguing that the veto is so infrequently used now it may not be important.

Inner City Press asked him if the lack of the veto being used is a product of proposals that would be vetoed not coming up for a vote, like the resolution on Israeli settlements. Hardeep Singh Puri replied that this resolution may well come up for a vote.

Having been told by African members of the Security Council that a move is coming soon to ask the Council to vote to suspend the International Criminal Court prosecution of Sudanese president Omar al Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, Inner City Press asked Hardeep Singh Puri if he thought such a resolution would be vetoed.

That hasn't come up yet, he replied. UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, when Inner City Press asked him earlier on Wednesday for the UK's position on such a proposal also declined to comment.

UN's Ban and Krishna in past: not repeated this time?

   Inner City Press and then an Indian television station asked Hardeep Singh Puri about Tri Valley University, whose students are now subject to ankle bracelet monitoring pending being thrown out of the country, their student visas revoked.

  Hardeep Singh Puri said Krishna might meet with some of the students. While despite his candor he didn't say it, Krishna would not be able even to meet with US Permanent Representative Susan Rice: she's left for the West Coast to give a speech, and won't be in the UN on Friday for the ministerial thematic debate.
   After the session at the Indian Mission, Inner City Press was jovially chided for raising questions beyond the UN. How about Sri Lanka's killing of Tamil fishermen, then? And on the UN beat, what about India's chairmanship of the Somalia sanctions committee, in light of reports of mercenaries there? Watch this site.

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With UN Panel Blocked from Sri Lanka, Ban Says “There Was An Agreement"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- On Sri Lanka, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday insisted to Inner City Press that “there was an agreement” and that his “Panel will visit Sri Lanka.”

  But not only have seven weeks gone by since Ban praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his “flexibility” and announced his Panel on Accountability would go -- since then, a range of UN officials have acknowledged that Sri Lanka has now refused to let the UN Panel go and speak with Rajapaksa's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

  Inner City Press has it from both sides that the UN is now offering a mere video conference call or even answers to written questions.

  So much for the agreement.

   Left unanswered, still, is with whom the stated agreement was.

UN's Ban & M. Rajapaksa in 9/10, agreement not shonw

 From the UN's transcript of Q&A with Mr. Ban on Tuesday:

Inner City Press: Sri Lanka – I need to ask you this. In both of your two last monthly press conferences, you said that your Panel was going to travel to the country, you praised President Rajapaksa’s flexibility. It now appears, and I’ve now heard from people on both sides that the Panel is probably not going to go, that they’ve offered a video conference. I just wondered what happened. Who did you speak with before you said that they could go and how do you read this now, with their failure to go, as the deadline approaches?

SG Ban: I can tell you that there was an agreement and that my Panel will visit Sri Lanka and they are still discussing about the format and their role in Sri Lanka. And whenever it is decided, I will let you know.

{Inner City Press: If they don't go, their work is not finished?}

SG Ban: I didn’t say that they [wouldn’t] go.

{Inner City Press: They will go?}

SG Ban: They will try to go anyway.

   Watch this site.

  Earlier on Tuesday, the EU's Catherine Ashton told Inner City Press that Sri Lanka's "government usually doesn't allow things like that. The President took the power to prevent independent inquiry, wouldn't allow someone in to do the inquiry into GSP Plus, which meant that it was much more complicated. So the words 'the government doesn't allow' are not unusual.”

 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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