UN Council Takes Up Vague Middle East Resolution,
Tony Blair Stays Silent
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 13 -- Why issue grand
pronouncements about elusive Middle East peace just as elections in
Israel are approaching,
and George Bush is outgoing? At a rare Saturday meeting at the UN, the
Council met about a vague two-page resolution proffered by the U.S.,
joined by Russia.
The Libyan Ambassador left the meeting first, handing out copies of the
resolution without comment. Inner City Press is putting the document online
here for Page 1, here for Page 2.
sources tell Inner City Press that Israel has expressed concern about
at the top of page
2, for "both parties [to] refrain from any steps that
could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of the
Libya, meanwhile, is expected to return with language urging more
the resolution. Earlier this month, a Libyan
ship was blocked by Israel from
landing on the Gaza Strip.
issue this pronouncement at this time? Cynics in the Council view it as
to the Bush administration, for the failure to deliver on the promises
the Annapolis conference more than a year ago. This way they can say
they left office there was momentum -- even if facts on the ground
describing himself as a European diplomat urged on reporters that
Council involved helps the parties. He assured Russian Permanent
Churkin that he had only spoken on background. "You softened them
up," Ambassador Churkin said. When a reporter tried to cut him off with
question about President Bush, he glared, overrode the reporter and
Jean-Maurice Ripert spoke last, and Inner City Press asked him about
refusal of Quartet
representative Tony Blair to brief the Security Council as
non-permanent member South Africa has been requesting for months. "I am
not aware of the reasons he will not be talking," Ripert said.
Press has been told, but the UN has refused to confirm, that Blair's
that he should not speak until after the Israeli elections. But why
then is the
Council speaking, or trying to speak? The question was not answered.
Quartet last month; this week, Blair
and Kouchner will be remote, Lavrov in the house
another matter, did Ripert comment on the UN's
report of both the Rwandan and
Congolese government's assisting armed rebel groups in the Kivus.
Press asked, any comment? "Not yet," Ripert said. Some surmise that
the report or the possible actions to be taken on it will be used as
City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson on December 11 --
Inner City Press: We heard from
the Council that Tony Blair has said that he will not brief them in
based on their invitation; that he may in fact not come to the Quartet
meeting. Is it your understanding that
he will be here at the Quartet meeting but...?
He cited some time constraint, is my understanding.
Spokesperson Montas: I am not
aware of that. I can try to find out
whether Mr. Blair will
be there. I don’t have that information
at this point.
Question: And also if he’s
declining the invitation to
brief the Council, what’s the reason for that?
[The Spokesperson later added
that Mr. Blair, as well as Mr. Kouchner, were scheduled, as of now, to
participate in the Quartet meeting via videolink.]
followed up on at the December
12 noon briefing:
Question: I just wanted to find
out about this; you
talked about this Middle East Quartet meeting.
Mr. Blair is supposed to be speaking from video?
Associate Spokesperson Haq: Yes.
Question: Why isn’t Mr. Blair
making himself available
to the Quartet? He’s being paid a lot of
money, and he has... but he is making himself as sparse as possible. I mean, to come here to the United Nations,
what is his (inaudible)?
Associate Spokesperson: First of
all, making himself available by
video link is participating in the meeting.
He will participate in all activities of the meeting. He will just not be physically present in New
York. That’s a standard feature of
meetings. We try to schedule meetings
whenever they are convenient for all people to be in the same venue at
time. If that’s not possible physically,
we try to make the appropriate arrangements by video link, and that’s
we’re doing in this case.
Question: Just to follow up to
this question. Who are the Arab Foreign
Ministers coming to
attend this conference, this Quartet meeting?
Associate Spokesperson: As far
as that goes, some of the arrangements
are still being made. So I don’t have
any names officially to give out to you just now. But
if you come upstairs after this meeting,
we can provide you with a few additional details.
Question: I mean, it’s supposed
to be a meeting between
Arab Foreign Ministers and the Quartet; that’s the sign originally?
Associate Spokesperson: Yes, and
you may have missed this, but I mentioned that at the start that there
a meeting in Conference Room 8 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.
Question: The media has already
announced that there
will be the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Will that be the case?
Associate Spokesperson: Like I
said, because the arrangements are
still being worked out, I don’t want to give out all the names just yet. We do have some additional details upstairs,
so we can provide that for you after this.
Inner City Press: First, it’s a
follow-up on this Tony Blair question.
Since he represents the UN, can you confirm that he
was asked to brief
the Security Council in this month and he declined to do so?
Associate Spokesperson: I think,
for that, the best thing to do is to
talk to the President of the Security Council; they’re the ones in
the arrangements for the Security Council.
Question: But as a
representative of the UN, he sent a
letter saying “I won’t come…” (interrupted).
Associate Spokesperson: He
is not just a representative of the
UN. He, as you know, is a representative
of the entire Quartet, so we don’t speak directly for Mr. Blair. But he has an office, and we can give you the
contact number for his office.
hours later, still no contact information for Tony Blair had been
Jean-Maurice Ripert, representing both France and the EU, said he
why Blair is not going to speak to the Council...
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