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As UN Heads to N. Korea, Tale of Two Swedes for Envoy, Kim Intrigue Grows

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 7 -- As the UN's four person team approaches North Korea, sources tell Inner City Press that they will be proposing a UN special envoy. The last was Maurice Strong, until allegations of corruption removed him from the post.

  "Swedish," say most sources. Sweden's current Ambassador to Pyongyang, since 2005 and certainly ready for a change, is Mats Foyer. His embassy represents U.S. interests in North Korea, so some might think it strange for him to assume a UN role.

  Foyer's predecessor as Swedish Ambassador in Pyongyang, from 2001-2005, was Paul Beijer, currently Swedish Ambassador in Bulgaria. He served as a senior advisor to the Swedish foreign ministry on DPRK issues from 2005 to 2008.

Kim Jong-Il and Swedish flag, music piracy and UN SRSG solution?

  Beijer's views may be gleaned from the following Q & A:

Q: You have served as the Special Advisor to the Swedish Government on Korean Peninsula Issues and as Swedish Ambassador to the DPRK in Pyongyang. What do you think is the best course of action for the international community, and the EU in particular, in the recent crises with the North Korean weapon tests?

Beijer: The DPRK has chosen a path of economic, political and cultural isolation for a very long time. This makes it less susceptible than most countries to the measures in our "toolbox" for international relations. I therefore don't believe there is a "quick fix" to the North Korean nuclear issue.

To leave the DPRK in continued isolation, would, in my personal opinion, not lead to constructive results. Patient diplomacy, dialogue and exchanges holds out the best hope for greater stability and perhaps a resolution to the nuclear issue in the longer run. That being said, I realize that in this age of short political time horizons this is not an easy course for the international community to stick to for a protracted period of time. The Six-Party talks were, and are, a good way to impart an element of long-term stability to a negotiated resolution of the nuclear crisis. These talks should continue.

The EU is contributing very constructively to that process by supporting it, and at the same time not insisting on a seat at the negotiating table. A seven-party process would, for purely practical reasons, be more cumbersome and less likely to lead to a good result.

Like any other effort, the Six-Party process in the end requires North Korea to perceive that it is in its own interest to reach a result. So far, I'm sorry to say, that does not seem to be the case. But the DPRK's own situation is not static, and patience is therefore required on the part of the international community. We too must be able to play a waiting game.

  Other sources, though, say that Ban Ki-moon and his most special advisor Kim Won-soo just might propose a South Korean. It would seem to be a conflict, but if Kim Jong-Il accepts, it would be a coup. Watch this site.

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As UN's Ban Rolls Dice on N. Korea Trip, Kim Won-soo Is Asked to Brief Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 3 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, returning from a brief trip during which protesters in South Sudan told him to "repent before judgment" while he was snubbed in Cyprus by four political parties, is said by close observers to be "rolling the dice" on a trip to North Korea.

  "Ban wants to be remembered as the S-G when the Koreas reunited," the close insider said. "If it happens, all the other failures will be forgotten."

   The importance of the upcoming trip to Ban's closest inner circle is reflected by on the record quotes that his main advisor Kim Won soo -- Ban's Karl Rove, as some put it -- gave to the JoongAng Daily. Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, with his own Korean connections, about the quote at Wednesday noon briefing, UN transcription here, video here:

Inner City Press... You said the other three members; who are the other three members of Mr. Pascoe’s team?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Kim Won-soo, the Deputy Chef de Cabinet is one of them, and two other members of staff.

Inner City Press: Of DPA or of the Executive Office of the Secretary General?

Spokesperson: One of each.

Inner City Press: Okay. I had asked earlier about when it was first announced that Kim Won-soo was quoted in Joong Ang Daily, describing the trip, saying it may have a nuclear component, as well as humanitarian. So, I was wondering, I mean, those are his quotes, right? That he spoke on the record Joong Ang?

Spokesperson: Well, you have to ask Kim Won-soo.

Inner City Press: That’s why I asked. When it first came up, I actually asked whether he could be a part of the briefing with Lynn Pascoe, since I don’t think he’s ever briefed the media on the record, but he seems to have a pretty important role within the Executive Office of the Secretariat, and obviously he is willing to speak on the record to at least some media. Is that possible to convey that request?

UN's Kim, at left, with UN's Ban and Munoz, on glaciers

Spokesperson: I will certainly convey it.

  Hours later when Ban and his entourage, including Vijay Nambiar and Lynn Pascoe, passed the Press at the Security Council stakeout, Kim Won-soo waved over. Correspondents recounted anecdotes from Ban's trip last month to Haiti. There was general agreement: Mister Kim must brief the press, and on the record. We'll see. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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