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Spain's Benito Comes to UN to Cut Costs, Meets Malcorra, Answers on Gibraltar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 -- When Spain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Gonzalo de Benito came to the UN on Thursday, it was at least in part to cut Spain's commitment to the Alliance of Civilizations. It was a Zapatero initiative; not only is he out of power, the country's finances are in shambles.

Inner City Press asked Benito if Spain's closing of its embassy in Syria should also be viewed as a budget cut, and if his country sees the UK's position on Gibraltar as similar to that on the Malvinas or Falkland Islands. Benito did not answer on the embassy but said that while Gibraltar had not been raised in New York -- the UK is the president of the Security Council this month -- Spain only wants to discuss sovereignty issues with the UK.

Benito while at the UN met with Argentina's Susana Malcorra, "current head of Field Support but soon to be Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff." Was this so she could speak in Spanish? Or might Spain while cutting voluntary economic support to the UN boost up its contribution of peacekeepers?

Western Sahara was asked about, in Spanish then translation. Benito said there will be no change in position under the new government, that Spain will support Ross and is heartened by recent rapprochement between Morocco and Algeria. We'll see.

Asked about the Alliance of Civilization, Benito mentioned an alliance for the Balkans. Based on its coverage of the ongoing race of Serbia versus Lithuania to be the next President of the General Assembly, sources told Inner City Press that Serbia's Vuk Jeremic was in town "using" the Alliance meetings to push his candidacy. There is also already a discussion of who would be PGA after the Eastern European group -- watch this site.

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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