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On Syria, Saudis Belatedly Brief African Group, On 120 Votes, Bill Clinton Buzz

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- Late Thursday on the eve of the Friday morning General Assembly vote on Saudi Arabia's resolution about Syria, the Saudi Permanent Representative belatedly met with the African Group on 47th Street.

  Inner City Press, which in three articles this week questioned why the Saudis met with all regional groups except Africa, heard about the meeting and went to stake it out, the only media in front. The Saudi Permanent Representative smiled as he left, saying "you are everywhere."

  African diplomats said "he had to come" and "he came just to say he had." One let it be known that the UK has said there are already 120 votes for the watered down Saudi resolution.

  But there are still disputes, for example whether the resolution should "welcome" decisions of the Arab League, or merely "note" them. This is another right about "regime change" and sanctions, even with those words technically out of the text.

  Another proponent of the amended resolution told Inner City Press he expects 125 votes in votes, while having projected only 70 if it had not been amended.

  The draft, which Inner City Press obtained from a well placed member state after 5 pm on August 1, is set for voting August 3 at 11 am (not 10 am as French Ambassador Gerard Araud said on camera midday Thursday, just to clear that up). Inner City Press is putting the draft online here.

Buzzy footnore: Speculation of who might replace Kofi Annan is rife, one source telling Inner City Press that Bill Clinton, who essentially admitted the UN brought cholera to Haiti, is in the mix.

  Others note that the UN's outgoing Libya envoy Ian Martin, who tried to put 200 military personnel in there until Libya opposed it, might be ready for a new and more exciting post. There is of course Ibrahim Gambari, leaving the Darfur mission -- but he has another post in mind. Watch this site.

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