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At the UN, Iraq to Khalilzad Call Presages Friday Vote on UN Role, Bombs and Rent Questions Persist

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

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- With voting on Security Council's resolution to expand the UN's role in Iraq postponed from Thursday to Friday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spoke Thursday morning into a cell phone handed to him Iraqi Ambassador Hamid Al Bayati.  

   "We're going to take that out," Amb. Khalilzad said loudly, adding that "all parties" would replace "armed groups" and that he had read "Ryan's report," referring to his successor as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, Inner City Press in full disclosure presumes.

            Headed into the Council Chamber surrounded by bodyguards, Amb. Khalilzad stopped to speak briefly to the press. He explained the day's delay in voting on logistics, telephones, to telling the Iraqis about changes in the preamble to the resolution since the last time the Iraqis had seen it. One reporter shouted, "Will you vote tomorrow?"

            "Tomorrow insha'Allah," Amb. Khalilzad replied.

            Moments later, a diplomat from another of the Permanent Five on the Council stopped and expressed surprise that it had all been worked out. Told of what Amb. Khalilzad had just said, the diplomat shrugged. "Then I guess it's finalized," he said.  In a cell phone call between Amb.Khalilzad and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari. Apparently this is how the expanded United "Nations" mission will work.

Amb. Khalilzad and Amb. Churkin, That needs to be fully investigated, see below

            A slow-brewing side-story has been a persistent question about Iraqi Ambassador Al Bayati living in the Trump building across First Avenue from the UN, reportedly for $22,000 a month. Some connected this to the $40 million released to Iraq from the wind-down of the UNMOVIC weapons-searching mandate. When Amb. Khalilzad was pointedly asked about this, he said that $40 million is not a lot of money.

            This appeared in the New York Post, and was raised by some in the Congressional delegation which visited recently, primarily about Darfur. In what some view as an attempt to protect the right flank, Amb. Khalilzad has tried to put his comments into context. Observers of the cell phone hand-off on Thursday morning wondered at the interlocking stories: one UN mandate in Iraqi being wound down, another being expanded as rents rise ever higher...

            Meanwhile on Thursday morning, on his way in to the Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was asked about Georgia's request for an emergency meeting on the bomb it accuses Russia of dropping earlier this week, 40 miles from Tiblisi. It must be fully investigated, Amb. Churkin said, then walked away. Reporters were left asking, Investigated by whom?  Developing.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund, while UNDP won't answer.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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