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Ban Ki-moon Says "Overwhelming" Report To Show Chemical Use in Syria, in "Closed" Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 13 -- In an abruptly closed lecture by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Women's International Forum on Friday morning, Ban said the UN's forthcoming report on Syria will be "overwhelming" and will show that chemical weapons were used, that Assad has committed many crimes against humanity and will face accountability. UN Video here, from Minute 34:35.

"I can't say this publicly," Ban said, until I get the report.

But he DID say it, putting the bragging about the report by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and UK officials in a new light.

Ban's lecture to WIF was listed in the day's UN Media Alert, but when Inner City Press went to cover it, the sign said "closed." On behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info, Inner City Press asked for an explanation from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit and its boss, Stephane Dujarric. But no explanation came.

   A UN Television staffer, however, told Inner City Press to look for the event on in-house UN EZTV, under Conference Room 2. And there it was, with Ban saying things about Syria using chemical weapons that even he said "I can't say publicly." But he did say it. And now the leaks become clearer.

The day before on September 12, Ban's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq refused to confirm these when Inner City Press asked at noon:

Inner City Press: not just Mr. Araud, but Laurent Fabius said openly that the report should come out Monday and that it will implicate Mr. [Bashar al]-Assad. And then Mr. Araud said that France, I donít know if it was him, was told this by the Secretary-General last night. So I am asking, what I e-mailed you, he is a Permanent Representative for France; what does that mean? Are you saying itís not true?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: I donít know what precisely he has said. What I can say is that the Secretary-General has not received the report thus far. We will let you know once the report has been received. But I cannot confirm what day that will be.

Inner City Press: Did he speak to France last night, as Mr. Araud said?

Associate Spokesperson: He has been in touch with a wide number of Member StatesÖ

Inner City Press: Did he speak to Russia?

Associate Spokesperson: He has been in touch with a wide number of Member States over the previous days about the crisis in Syria, a wide number of Member States, but in any case, the report has not been received.

Later in the briefing, Inner City Press asked more formally, in the spirit of the Free UN Coalition for Access, for disclosure:

Inner City Press: Because France has said that it heard from the Secretary-General on the topic of the report, I would like to make a request that you at least disclose whether Ban Ki-moon talked to all five members of the permanent five. So I just, thatís a request.

Associate Spokesperson: He has been speaking sporadically in recent days with all of the five members, of the five permanent members.

Inner City Press: But itís pretty important. Given what Mr. Fabius said, itís pretty important, Iím just making that request.

  Now with UK officials claiming even more detailed knowledge of the report, it becomes even more important. The UK and France, ostensibly such fans of the UN (if only because their Security Council veto rights magnify their power) are in fact shredding its credibility or its claimed impartiality.

  The UN Secretariat has done this itself, too -- given that this UN issued a report exonerating itself for bringing cholera to Haiti, and clings to that even after the scientists who delivered the false report now disclaim it, why should the UN's report on chemical weapons be treated as a sacred cow?

  A Nordic Ambassador on Thursday night argued to Inner City Press that Sellstrom is a good man. Fine. But if it's not him leaking, is it Ban? Araud said the Secretary General told France. Watch this site.



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