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At the UN, Pataki Dodges Burma and Bruno, Demarches and What's In a Name?

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, October 5 -- Waiting for Gambari like waiting for Godot, as the UN press corps on Friday waiting outside the Security Council's meeting on Myanmar, some jogged down the hall toward a tall man speaking to a lone reporter. "Looks like the Syrian Ambassador," one correspondent said. He's tall and he likes to talk. "No," said another, both in New York and of it. "It's George-freaking-Pataki."

            And former New York State governor George Pataki it was, accompanied by US Mission deputy spokesman Ben Chang. "I'm not doing politics for a while," Pataki said. Inner City Press asked, "Any views on Burma?"

            "Yes, but at this point I'm not going to... I'll let others speak for the Delegation."

            Pataki was appointed part of the U.S. delegation to this UN General Debate. Inner City Press asked him what he'd thought of the GA.

            "I think it's important to hear personally from so many heads of state," Pataki said. "It's one think when you see them on TV or read accounts in newspapers. It's different in person, and when you can chat a little bit with them. It gives a more nuanced perspective." He paused. "Who are you with?"

            "Inner City Press. And I'd wanted to ask you a New York question, for your comments on Joe Bruno--"

            Pataki laughed at this reference to the spied-on State Senator. "I'm looking at things in a diplomatic mindset these days," he said, leaving to meeting, he said, the president of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim.

The gaze of George Pataki, Burma and Bruno far below

            President Kerim had closed the General Debate with prepared remarks on Wednesday, in a room less than half full. Inner City Press asked his spokesman that day:

Inner City Press: I'm sorry to ask about this, but I wanted to get to the bottom of it.  On this issue of FYROM and the Republic of Macedonia, it's been reported that people, I don't know if it's organizations or Greece itself, have asked for some action to be taken on what was said.... If they had some kind of a complaint, how would it work out in the GA to... what action could they get on a complaint?  I saw an interview where the President of the Assembly in a newspaper called Dnevnik, he said that no consultations had been needed because it was his political assessment, apparently, to, that this was the name to use.  I guess I'm wondering is that true?  Did he.... As the general debate ends, have any either complaints or requests for action been filed?  Does he intend to continue to use the name that he used and is it true that he didn't consult anyone or saw no need for consultations in the use of that term?

Spokesperson:  We're not aware of any kind of complaints filed, and as regards this whole issue, the statement that we had last week on this continues to stand and I did mention that the President has no further comments on this issue and he feels that he has said everything he wanted to in that statement.

Inner City Press: ... is he going to use the same phrase again? His statement wasn’t clear to me, whether… throughout his tenure this will be the term that he’s going to use?

Spokesperson:  Matthew, all I have is the comment that we had last week on this issue.  I don't have further comments on this and neither does the President at this time.

Inner City Press: It seems like a fair question.  He probably knows that he's going to keep using it, it seems like he is.  It would seem like if he is, to say that's what he's going to call it.

Spokesperson:  This seems to be a hypothetical question, in a way, what's going to happen in the future...

Question:  The other thing is on this Host Country Committee, now that the general debate is ending, is it your understanding... no country raised any issue about gaining access to the facilities, including Bolivia?  No complaints raised?

Spokesperson:  I'm not aware of any complaints.  I’ve not been told of any. We’ve been checking on this since you have been asking, but I’m not aware of any.

            There's reportedly been a complaint against the host country by the Egyptian Ambassador, based on an incident on September 26 in which he tried to cross First Avenue at 44th Street, against the orders of police. When confronted, he reportedly flung a metal barricade. NYPD sources tell a late-night correspondent that an arrest could have been made, including for subsequent spitting. But instead, a diplomatic demarche has been filed, and now must be investigated. Only at the UN...

* * *

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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Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540