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France's "Light" UN August Sets Syria August 16, Late on Sudans & Somalia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- When France on July 25 prepared its "Program of Work" for its August UN Security Council presidency, it set in an otherwise empty week an August 16 consultation to consider whether to extended the UN Mission in Syria beyond the 30 days France agreed to on July 20.

Inner City Press has obtained the French Mission's July 25 program of work and puts it online here, summarizes it below.

The July 20 resolution requires a 15 day report, and says the mission can be extended. France set a meeting for this three days before the August 19 expiration, in a week with no other meetings. Some may leave town, others may not come. And if France has its way, the mission will fully be dismantled.

This is consistent with the action of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to control UN Peacekeeping, who was ready on July 20 to pull the whole mission out until the resolution was passed, and has still sent half of the peacekeepers home.

There is also an UNSMIS (Syria) meeting listed on August 2. Perhaps after that Ladsous will try to send the rest of the observers home.

In fact, well placed sources in the Secretariat tell Inner City Press it is Ladsous' goal to reduce the number to twenty-some, from the UN Department of Safety and Security and not Troop Contributing Countries. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office has announced that it will neither confirm or deny things that (whistleblowing) UN staff tell Inner City Press.

France's focus it is said is on Mali, with briefings and consultations on August 8 followed by lunch with Ban Ki-moon.

Sudan and South Sudan will come up on August 9, a full week after the August 2 deadline for negotiations. Likewise, Somalia will be discussed on August 22, two days AFTER the deadline for the TFG.

  Other meetings ranging from Lebanon on August 23 and 30, through a Kosovo "debate" on August 21 and Central Asia on August 7. There is a "DPA briefing" that day.

  France's month is "very light," as one attendee of the July 25 Political Coordinators dinner hosted by France told Inner City Press. These are usually lunches, but because of Ramadan this was held in the evening.

  The torch of being the "dean" of P5 Political Coordinators was passed from seasoned China to US team player Bill Grant.

Previously Inner City Press covered its passage from Russia's Vladimir Safronkov to the UK, then out of the hands of the UK's David Quarrey, who reappeared at the Syria meetings in Geneva, leading UK efforts on the Middle East.

  France's Political Coordinator Emmanuel Bonne returned to Paris. But the beat goes on, even in France's "light" August. Watch this site.

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