UN, As Friends on Myanmar Calculate Their Share, Ban Splits Difference
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 25 -- Following the closed door
meeting on Myanmar by
the UN Secretary General's "Group of Friends" on Thursday
morning, S-G Ban Ki-moon took two questions from the Press. One of
his advisors told Inner City Press that both the United States and
France have become "more nuanced," with only the UK still
beating the drum about what they call Burma.
He said that donors like
Norway and Australia and Japan are trying to "recalibrate."
He snidely pointed out that on roads outside of Yangon, the
construction equipment is "all from Caterpillar," the U.S.
India's Tata now plans a truck factory in Myanmar. India is said to
be concerned that if they don't invest, Myanmar will become an
economic colony of China. Money is talking.
was flanked by his interim envoy to Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar and
performed under the watchful eyes of diplomats from Friends of
Myanmar who urge a hands-off approach. One of these told Inner City
Press, before Ban began, that he would mention something about "that
lady." Inner City Press was about to say, "The Lady?"
but then asked Ban about it. See below.
Last Friends on Myanmar meeting- of this one, no photos were allowed
From the UN's transcript:
City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said, she
has actually encouraged the NLD not to register for the polls under
the current laws. I wonder what do you think can happen between now
and when a date is set. Would you view that as a fatal flaw to the
election, if the NLD didn’t participate? And are you thinking of
naming a more permanent successor to Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari to carry
out the good offices? Some say that having an interim person may
either reflect or be interpreted as a lack of commitment on the
SG: If what she said is based on her genuine belief,
based on the current situations, then we have to respect her
decision. I’m not quite sure what the surrounding circumstances
were as she made that statement. However, she is the leader of her
party and when she said such decision then I think that should be
respected. That depends upon how people will decide on that. As a
matter of principle, as I have said repeatedly, publicly and
privately to the Myanmar leadership, that this election should be
fully open, transparent, inclusive and participatory and credible,
and I told the Myanmar leadership that without full participation of
all the people, including political prisoners, and particularly Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, it may not be regarded as credible and inclusive.
Therefore all the process and development, we have to carefully
monitor. And about the appointment of Mr. Gambari’s position: at
this time I have designated my Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Vijay Nambiar as
ad interim Special Advisor until such time when I will be able to
find a Special Advisor for that post.
City Press: There was at least one report that you proposed a name to
Myanmar and they turned it down. Maybe the report was wrong?
No. I have never proposed any names.
purveyor of the report was the only other journalist to ask Ban a
Myanmar question. Before he did, a UN Security Officer asked him to
move away from the meeting room. He maintained to Inner City Press
that Nambiar traveled to Myanmar to deliver Ban's letter, and that
Ban has received a response that emphasizes Myanmar's sovereignty.
Inner City Press asked at the noon
briefing for confirmation that a
response had been received, but the spokesman merely said he would
look into it. Watch this site.
* * *
UN, Friends on Myanmar Meet Amid UK Posturing, China Intransigence, Ban
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 25, updated below -- Myanmar is the topic of a closed
this morning in the UN's new three story building by the East River
here, the day after the UK raised Burma in the Security Council, only
to have China call it a "sovereign state that must be
respected." We will live blog here from outside the meeting.
the run up to
this meeting of the Group of on Myanmar meeting, two senior UN
officials portrayed the UK and Gordon Brown as opportunistic, trying
to take domestic credit for the meeting which was already planned
before Gordon Brown requested it. "He did the same thing after
Cyclone Nargis," one of the officials said to Inner City Press.
"He knew the Secretary General was going, so he called for him
told Inner City Press that the UN has advised Myanmar to get better
at public relations at the UN. "But they are a military regime,
very military minded," the official lamented. The UN would like
to rehabilitate their image if not their practices.
Friends of the Secretary General on Myanmar begins meeting at 10 a.m.
in the UN's new North Lawn building, followed by a televised stakeout
on the building's second floor. We will live blog it below.
UN's Ban and Nambiar and Gambari, previous Friends
Inner City Press was told late
Wednesday that Ban Ki-moon might not take or answer questions after
But on March 24
he told Inner City Press that on
Myanmar, "I will answer you tomorrow." From the March 24 UN
City Press: I wanted to ask in the run-up to this meeting with the
Group of Friends of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has said that her
party, the NLD [National League for Democracy], and other opposition
parties, shouldn't even register for the poll, that the election laws
are flawed. I'm wondering; you convened the meeting, what's your
thinking of what the UN can do, given that the main opponent now
wants to boycott it?
Ban: let me answer tomorrow afternoon after I have convened the
meeting of the Group of Friends of Myanmar. I need to discuss this
matter with the ambassadors participating in that meeting. I will
have a clearer answer, if you excuse me.
see. At 9:30 am, it was announced
Ban WILL speak at 11. We
will live blog the meeting and stakeout here -- watch this space.
of 10:15 a.m. -- Outside Conference Room 5 in the UN's new North Lawn
building, Ambassador Churkin of Russia and Lyall Grant of the UK
walked in and stood speaking. The DPR of India, jovial, arrived, as
did Singapore's Perm Rep. Just after 10, Ban Ki-moon arrived, with
Vijay Nambiar, Kim Won-soo, Lynn Pascoe and other staff.
the media, only
two cameras were present: Japanese TV and Inner City Press. Next
door, a UN Global Compact meeting broke up. UNGC director Kell came
out and told Inner City Press, you can't quote us. Is there no press
availability? No. This is our first time in the new building, Kell
said. Then a UN Security Officer came over and asked to see Inner
City Press' credential. Only at the UK.
of 10:45 a.m. -- unlike when staking out past meetings of the Group
of Friends on Myanmar, which were held in the basement of the UN's
"old" Conference Building where spokespeople and even
Ambassadors would step outside to smoke and talk, including ot the
press, this new building is antiseptic. There is no reason for anyone
to step out of the meeting room, so no one does.
request has been made to the UN Global Compact for a list of its
corporate members who do business in Myanmar, and how.
Update - stakeout
was late, but Inner City Press asked two questions, for this update