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At UN on Syria, Annan Talks Dialogue, Ban Spaces Question, Finances Undisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 29 -- When former Secretary General Kofi Annan came to the UN late Wednesday, it came after a day in which the Security Council could not agree on a statement demanding or calling for Syria to let UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos into the country.

Annan said he will go to Damascus, and that he wants to be the only mediator. He said the goal is to stop the violence, to create dialogue. He said that some may not want dialogue but the Syrians caught in the middle deserve it.

Inner City Press attended the photo op -- Annan's successor as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had with him his main adviser Kim Won-soo, his outgoing political chief Lynn Pascoe as well as UN Peacekeeping and other officials -- and then Ban's and Annan's stakeout. Only three questions were allowed, and none dealt for example with Qatar's call to arm the opposition, or even if Ban's statement that Assad lost all humanity was useful.

Annan acknowledged he hadn't spoken to Assad in some years. Still he was notably more alert, several journalists commented, than Ban who seemed to space out even during one of the three questions, if he would write a letter to the Syrian government describing Annan's mandate.

At the day's noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: the spokesperson for the Syrian Foreign Ministry has said that they have asked the Secretary-General for details of Mr. Annan’s mandate and goals and they expect, quote, 'from their point of view, a letter to that effect.' Can you respond to it? ...

Spokesperson: I have seen what the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, Matthew, and as I have also just said, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy — the Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States — will be meeting this afternoon. That’s their first meeting. They have obviously spoken on the telephone, but this is their first meeting since that appointment. I think they will be discussing various aspects, and I am sure that they will have taken note of what the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

  Then at the stakeout, Ban said the letter was already on its way. So when was it sent? And what about finances? Watch this site.

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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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