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Amid UN Speeches Diplomats Cut Deals, Officials Lobby & Run from Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- While speeches droned on in the General Assembly Wednesday, real and mysterious UN business took place next door in the North Lawn building.

  Jacob Zuma, for example, appeared for bilateral meetings surrounded by his foreign minister, Permanent Representative and others. The Permanent Representatives of Austria and the Arab League met over one of the marble tables of the Vienna Cafe.

  Senior UN system staffers came in from the field: Miroslav Jenca from the UN center for preventive diplomacy in Central Asia based in Turkmenistan, telling Inner City Press he's hear to meet with leaders of countries in the region; Office of Drugs and Crime chief Yuri Fedotov, chatting with Finland's Ambassador to the Caribbean, waiting for meetings that kept getting delayed.

  More mysterious was the appearance of Lamberto Zannier, formerly the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo but now heading the OSCE. He moved with a group with D for Diplomat passes, first toward the office of the ACABQ, then back to the Vienna Cafe. The OSCE has told Turkmenistan to lighten up on the press. Maybe Zannier should talk to Jenca, while each is waiting for other meetings.

At UN Sept 21, Jenca & companion, Obama speech not seen

  The head of UNDP Helen Clark, who has refused repeated requests to hold a press conference, showed up in the Vienna Cafe with an entourage. An investigative journalist politely approached her to ask a question. "Running," Clark said, walking briskly away.

  Later Inner City Press approached previous top UN lawyer Nicolas Michel, whose successor Patricia O'Brien refuses to hold press conferences, saying it is inappropriate for the UN's legal adviser. Inner City Press asked Michel, about whom it has previously reported, if the press conferences he gave about the Hariri tribunal in Lebanon and other issues ever hurt his work. He declined to comment, though gracefully. And so it goes at the UN.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

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

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