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UN Spox Doesn't Know if US Shared Syria Evidence, Says Ban Golfs with UK Too

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 1 -- After UN chemical weapons inspector Ake Sellstrom spoke with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday morning about Syria, Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky took questions from the press.

One of the elephants in the room was John Kerry, or at least his announcement earlier in the morning that the US' lab tests of hair and blood samples from Ghouta show the presence of sarin.

Inner City Press asked Nesirky to comment on the US moving or saying it moved so much more quickly, and if the US has shared any of this evidence with the UN. To the latter, Nesirky later said that he didn't know. (It seems strange that it wouldn't come up on Ban's call with Sellstrom, but maybe in The Hague as on the UN's internal EZTV system CNN can't be heard.)

On the former, Nesirky said the UN is unique capable of conducting an impartial investigation, clarifying that this involved chain of custody. Inner City Press asked that since the US speed also involved faster lab work, did this mean Ban found the fast-labs less than credible? Nesirky returned to his prior answer.

Gulf media questioned why, if two Syrian officers are accompanying the samples, there are not two representatives from the rebels, presumably from Team Jarba. Nesirky replied that this was what had been negotiated.

Nesirky graciously allowed Inner City Press a final question, which were two. First, about Germany providing a plane to fly the samples and team to The Hague. Yes, Nesirky said, what's the second. Actually it was related to the implication of the first: that for the UN to accept free service from some member countries might undercut its perceived impartiality.

Inner City Press asked about a statement by Ban Ki-moon in Sunday's New York Times, Sunday Routine column:

I try to play golf. I do not have a membership, so Iím invited by some friends. The Korean ambassador has a membership. The ambassador of San Marino, [Alexander] Bodini, plays at Deepdale in Long Island. Thatís a very good place. Another is Manhattan Woods, with the Korean ambassador.

Inner City Press asked Nesirky how the UN would respond to the argument this undermines the UN's or at least Ban's perceived impartiality. Nesirky said Ban also golf with others; he gave the example of the UK (presumably Mark Lyall Grant, whose support of a particularly rough soccer team West Ham Inner City Press has previously reported.)

Inner City Press asked, as to Ban's social golfing, what about North Korea? Syria? Iran? Eritrea. There was laughter. Not that it is without humor, but why? Because the named countries or ambassadors don't play golf? (Inner City Press been jokingly asked if it thinks Syria's Ja'afari even knows how to play golf. But would Ban ask?)  Because of course Ban wouldn't golf with them? How are decisions made? Why aren't more disclosures made? Watch this site.


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