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On Syria, Fabius Quotes Ban Ki-moon's Gun-Jumping, Doesn't Dare Say ICC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- When France's Laurent Fabius and Russia's Sergey Lavrov took questions in Moscow on Tuesday, France like at the UN Security Council the day before did not dare say the words "International Criminal Court."

  Instead, Fabius began filibuster-style to talk about the two countries' cooperation on culture, tourism -- everything but Syria. On that, he quickly cited Ban Ki-moon and his "overwhelming" report, without noting that Ban used that word BEFORE he even saw the report.

  The French journalists called on did their job, Le Figaro for example demanding to know if Russia will support a Chapter 7 resolution. But the US agreement with Russia only provides for Chapter 7 if there is a violation of the framework. And even then, Lavrov said, it would have to be sure the violation was not a provocation by the rebels.

  On Ake Sellstrom's report, Lavrov said it is interim, there are other incidents to be studied. He said that if the Security Council were to immediately jump to Chapter 7 on allegations of chemical weapons use, the Council would be taken "hostage" -- a word that others have used.

And what, Inner City Press asks again, of the UN staff held hostage by the rebels? After pressing the UN's Valerie Amos for the number of UN staff killed -- eleven -- Inner City Press asked Ban's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq if there are UN staff held by the rebels. Yes, he said, then refused to provide further information. Hostage, indeed.

Lavrov said the UN's main role, after the OPCW signs off, will be with regard to the protection of the inspectors. On that he said the responsibility is for the Syrian government, and in cases, by the rebels. So, a Security Council output on the OPCW and on protection of inspectors.

If there are obstacles, Lavrov said, the Security Council will take the appropriate measures against any party not respecting their commitments. And any party means the rebels too.

Fabius was asked about the split between the US and France (and the UK), and danced around the question, turning into a show of past French peaceful bona fides. But once the US signed the framework with Russia in Geneva, France's approach was gone. Watch this site.

Footnote: Perhaps France's echoing of Ban Ki-moon is a reason Ban gave one of his merely three questions Monday to Agence France Presse -- that and some more local dynamics.

 And while France's Deputy Permanent Representative would not answer Inner City Press' ICC question on camera on Monday, afterward as we noted his colleague came to tell Inner City Press that yes, France wants the ICC in any resolution. Nous allons voir.


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