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Syria & Sudan Complain of Banks, Obama vs Kelly on St. Vincent Detention

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- Syria's and Sudan's Missions to the UN complained Monday that they are being blocked from having bank accounts in New York.

  The complaints were made in a closed door meeting of the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country, at which the detention of the Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and President Barack Obama's discussing the incident at the recent Summit of the Americas, was also discussed, sources told Inner City Press.

  The bank account issue arose last year when JP Morgan Chase announced it would close diplomatic accounts. The US State Department sent Patrick Kennedy up to New York to address UN Ambassadors in another closed door session on January 13, 2011. Inner City Press filmed outside that meeting, click here to view.

  Now, the number of countries without approved bank accounts has declined from 34 to nine, including Syria and Sudan both of which took the floor in Monday's Host Country Committee meeting.

  Another delegation has complained to Inner City Press that "the Americans came whispering we should open our account with some bank in Washington, looked like an online bank, but then they tried to charge us $500, we asked ourselves, what is this scam, a CIA bank?"

  An attendee of the meeting told Inner City Press that the problem now is that "bank are in the private sector and the US State Department can't tell then what to do."

  A wag went on to muse that given the number of bank industry officials in the Obama administration, including most recently Jack Lew of Citibank, getting them to allow these countries to open accounts should be no problem.

  Followed the detention and handcuffing of St. Vincent's Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves in the lobby of the building his Mission's office is in, the US has been apologetic.

  "Obama discussed it with St. Vincent's prime minister in Cartagena," an attendee told Inner City Press, referring to the Summit of the Americas. Camillo Gonsalves' father Ralph is the Prime Minister. "Hillary wrote a letter, and Susan Rice. But nobody's happy with explanation provided by NYC Police Commissioner."

  It is politically popular or populist in New York City, of course, to appear to be tough on diplomats, and not only on parking tickets. With Commissioner Ray Kelly mentioned as possibly Michael Bloomberg's successor, this may play a role in the difference between the US and New York response.

  There is also the matter of the NYPD taking custody of the 14 kilograms of cocaine which were quietly found and taken out of the UN, as first reported by Inner City Press. What follow up has there been? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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