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In UN SC, Syria Draft Under Silence to 9 am Thursday, Kofi Briefs at 10

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 4 -- On the eve of Kofi Annan's briefing of the UN General Assembly, Security Council diplomats met past 6 pm on Wednesday negotiating a Presidential Statement about Annan's mission to Syria.

  The idea, several Council sources told Inner City Press, was to "agree on a PRST before Annan's 10 am briefing." The negotiation went slowly, from 3:30 pm -- after an hour, a source emerged to say they were "only on paragraph two." Two became four.

  A Western diplomat told Inner City Press, it will look terrible if the Council can't agree on something this simple before Kofi briefs the Council. A non-Western diplomat said the statement had to be balanced, and use "carrots" as well as sticks.

  An Arab diplomat opined that "Russia will be harder this time."

  But just after six the meeting broken. Multiple sources told Inner City Press that the amended draft is under "silence procedure" until 9 am on Thursday, with an eye toward reading it out in the chamber at 9:45 - unless a member objects. PRST must be unanimous.

  One Western diplomat quipped, as he left, sure 9:45, Russia has guaranteed it won't object. There are, of course, no guarantees.

    Meanwhile the UN itself remains absurdly secretive. Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to merely confirm that Robert Mood of Norway is the head of the assessment team being sent to Damascus. Nesirky refused to confirm.

  The two deputies, Nassar El-Kidwa and Jean-Marie Guehenno, are said by sources to be at the Assistant Secretary General level. Inner City Press asked Nesirky if Ban's financial disclosure, including public financial disclosure, regime applies to them.

  Nesirky referred to prior back and forth -- mostly back -- about the composition of Annan's team, and said he wouldn't answer. Inner City Press noted that while Annan spokesman Ahmad Fawzi disclosed at least some names -- Lamine Sisse, for example, and Nicolas Michel as a consultant -- he hadn't disclosed Martin Griffiths, and in any event the financial disclosure question was for the UN Secretariat, Ban in particular since he made so much of this disclosure regime.

  "Don't get me wrong you can ask of course," Nesirky said. "And if we have something I'll let you know." But six hours later nothing had been said. So much for disclosure.

Footnote: at the same time as the Syria consultation, another meeting took place in the Council's suite, on one of the US Mission's thematic debates this month, called "Illicit Flows." An exiting diplomat quipped to Inner City Press, "Sounds like a disease." Indeed.

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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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