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As Sri Lanka Meets Ban, Sexual Violence & Rights Officials Present

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 24,updated -- When Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met on Saturday night with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an abnormally large team of UN officials, the session went ten minutes over the allocated twenty, leaving the next delegation from Montenegro waiting.

  While most of Ban's meetings and photo ops this week have been entirely routine, according to officials who have been in the meeting, this one had more people at it. Before the 6:20 pm meeting began, Ivan Simonovic, the New York representative of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights Navi Pillay, arrived and went in to wait.

  Simonovic was followed in by Margot Wallstrom, the special adviser on Sexual Violence and Conflict. That is among the war crimes Sri Lankan forces are accused of, including in the Channel 4 documentary "Killing Fields" that Ban and his advisers have yet to watch.

  Not surprising but worth noting was the presence of Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, who is accused of complicity in what are called the White Flag murders of surrendering Tamil Tiger rebels.

Ban leads in Rajapaksa, past Nambiar & Wallstrom, Simonovic & Silva not shown

  The White Flag incident also involved Palitha Kohona, who as Rajapaksa's Permanent Representative to the UN was also present at the meeting, along with foreign minister G.L. Peiris, who met on Thursday with Nambiar and Ban's top political official Lynn Pascoe, also present Saturday night.

  Based on Inner City Press' reporting, media in Sri Lanka have extrapolated that Peiris lodged a complaint with Pascoe about the Panel of Experts report on war crimes in Sri Lanka having been transmitted to Pillay and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

  Simonovic's presence at Saturday night's meeting would seem related to that. But Wallstrom's?

Rajapaska shakes with Ban: agreement on what happens in Geneva?

  After the initial photo op, cameramen are usually shepherded off the North Lawn building's third floor. But this time, a Sri Lankan security officer arranged for the three other photographers, all Sri Lankan, to stay up at the entrance to Ban's office. Inner City Press stayed as well.

  When ten minutes late the meeting ended, Ban escorted Rajapaksa to the elevator. There the two men engaged in discussion well out of the earshot of Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, who stopped Ban on his way back in to the waiting Montenegro delegation and asked him questions.

Sri Lankan side: Peiris, Rajapaksa, Kohona; Nambiar hidden

  Earlier on Saturday at the photo op of Ban and Madagascar coup leader Rajoelina, Nesirky had told Inner City Press, "You don't take pictures of talking points, okay? Now I know." A more senior Ban adviser later laughed, "there's nothing IN the talking points, they are as empty as the read-outs Martin gives."

  This time, six hours later, the talking points were turn over to face the table, which some at the photo op laughed at. Nesirky did not seem to be laughing. His office will, it seems sure, issue a read out of the meeting. But will the Sri Lankans?

Update of 8:10 pm -- this was put out at 8:06 pm:

Read-out of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, on the margins of the 66th General Assembly

The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

They exchanged views on the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka. The Secretary-General reiterated the need for a credible national accountability process as envisaged in the joint statement of 23 May 2009. He also underlined the need to find a political solution to the underlying factors of the past conflict.

New York, 24 September 2011

Watch this site.

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At UN, Sri Lanka FM Peiris Meets Pascoe Then Nambiar, Ban No Time for Killing Fields

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 22, updated -- Amid charges of war crimes leveled at the government of Sri Lanka, including its Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona, the country's foreign minister G.L. Peiris came to UN Headquarters Thursday morning for at least two meetings.

  On the second floor of the UN's North Lawn building, Inner City Press spotted Peiris, Kohona and an entourage at 8:20 Thursday morning. They went into the office of the UN Department of Political Affairs at 8:34, and did not emerge until after 9 am.

  Inner City Press asked Peiris, how the meeting went. "We had a useful meeting," he said.

  Did you meet with [Lynn] Pascoe? Yes, Peiris said, and now "we are going to meet with Vijay Nambiar."

  Ban Ki-Moon's chief of staff Nambiar, of course, is involved in the same White Flag murder case as Kohona, having passed assurances to surrendering Tamil Tiger rebels that if they raised a white flag they would be treated in compliance with international law. In fact, they were killed.

  Nambiar has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his role. And now Peiris meets with him.

  Minutes later, Inner City Press asked Pascoe about his meeting with Peiris. Pascoe to his credit answered, saying that Peiris "explained where they are going and what they're trying to do."

  Pascoe paused then said, "He's got some complaints about things in the past, as we all know... But it was good for us to talk through." Pascoe confirmed the meeting with Nambiar.

Peiris at UN 9/22 before Pascoe meeting, (c) MRLee

  Inner City Press midday on Wednesday, when Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's spokesman canceled the regular noon briefing, asked to be given notice of Sri Lanka meetings, and asked again if Ban has watched "Killing Fields of Sri Lanka." The question was not acknowledged or answered. Why so secret?

 When Inner City Press asked Pascoe if Mahinda Rajapaksa is going to meet with Ban Ki-moon, Pascoe said "yes, sometime." Watch this site.

Update of 10:15 am -- twenty five minutes after the above was published, a belated answer can in from Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office:

Date: Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Subject: Your question on Sri Lanka
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Cc: Martin Nesirky

Regarding your questions on Sri Lanka, it is envisaged that the Secretary-General will meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka on the sidelines of this General Assembly. The Secretary-General's daily appointments are made public on the evening prior, and are available at the Spokesperson's Office.

The Secretary-General has yet to view the documentary "Killing Fields of Sri Lanka", but has been thoroughly briefed on the film's contents.

No time to view Killing Fields, which critiques his UN's performance, but a full screening of the Whistleblower film about UN missteps under Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan. Priorities? Watch this site.

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Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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

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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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