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As France Met With UN Council, "Not a Word About Syria," Churkin Tells Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 1 -- In Paris on November 29, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, "I have also instructed our permanent representative to start consultations at the heart of (the UN Security) Council. The idea is to give the Syrian regime an ultimatum so that it meets its international obligations to allow access to humanitarian aid."

  On December 1 when each Security Council member met with the Council president for the coming month, Russia's Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin, Inner City Press asked a number of Ambassadors about Juppe's statement and about the humanitarian corridors from Turkey and Lebanon which he proposed.

  Lebanon's Permanent Representative Nawaf Salam, from whose country such a corridor would run, told Inner City Press that "the French did not raise it with us."

  Inner City Press asked French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud about the bilateral meeting he'd had with Vitaly Churkin. "There was nothing special," Araud said. Inner City Press asked, did you ask for consultations about humanitarian corridors? "No, no," Araud said (although in fairness it was not clear if this was a direct response about corridors or a more general lack of responsiveness.)

  After all 14 bilateral meetings were over, Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representative Churkin, "Did France ask for consultations on humanitarian corridors in Syria?"

   "No," Churkin answered without hesitation. He added, "I'll give you a more general answer: not a single word about Syria."

  What to make of this disparity, between Juppe's statement and what by all accounts happened, or didn't happen, in New York?

(c) UN Photo
Sarkozy & Juppe in UN corridors; humanitarian corridors not shown, even in SC bilats

  Another Council diplomat told Inner City Press, "There are things said for public consumption, but not carried out here." Indeed. Watch this site.

Footnotes: There is a certain symmetry here: back at the beginning of May 2011, Araud said very publicly and with apparently glee that Churkin had, at the beginning of that month in which Araud was the three-stakeout-only president, not raised the issue of Kosovo organs trade. That did come up later in France's month of May, and in June -- will Juppe's humanitarian corridors?

  Finally in fairness we note that on December 1 Araud did answer an unrelated Inner City Press question, about when France, which "holds the pen" on the DR Congo, will circulate any draft statement about the "chaotic" elections there. Araud said that UN envoy Meece will brief the Council on the afternoon of December 2, and that a draft statement might be circulated after that, depending on the contents of the briefing. We'll see.

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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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