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Gambari's Myanmar Visit "Disappointing," UK Mission Says, UN Takes No Questions

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

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- "Disappointing" is how the UN's Ibrahim Gambari's trip to Myanmar was described Tuesday by UK Ambassador John Sawers. At the microphone outside the Security Council, speaking mostly about Georgia, Inner City Press asked Sawers if he and the UK think that Gambari's just-concluded trip, in which he did not meet with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, represented any progress. Sawers called it disappointing, but added that when Gambari returns to New York, he will speak to the Security Council, which will then "reflect on the future of [Gambari's] good offices mission." Video here, from Minute 3:24.

     Particuarly in the context of the "Security Council Working Methods" debate later this week, some are sure to point out that Gambari's role is related to the wider membership of the General Assembly. At Tuesday's UN noon briefing, the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly went first, and Inner City Press asked him if the PGA has heard from Gambari since he left Myanmar, to set up a briefing for member states. Not yet, the spokesman replied, adding that such a briefing usually happens. Video here, from Minute 10:46.

Gambari at UN, with Myanmar representative, UN answers not shown

  Another thing that should and nearly always does happen is the Secretariat taking Press questions at noon. But on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman came late, spent eleven minutes reading out press releases including one about Gambari in Indonesia, and then said, "I'll take only one question." Video here, from Minute 22:21. So it was impossible to ask how the Secretariat responds to the widespread disappointment with its performance in Myanmar, now from the UK Mission as well.

  Inner City Press and other reporter stood outside the Secretary-General's monthly luncheon with the Security Council later on Tuesday, hoping to ask Ban for his views on these questions.  All of the Ambassadors came by, commenting on the food and conversation. But no Ban. It turns out he left by a side exit. The menu, we can report, included wild mushroom risotto, plantain-crusted mahi mahi with carmelized hearts of palm and seasonal fruit with vanilla yoghurt sauce.

  In Yangon, Aun San Suu Kyi refused the food delivered to her, just as she refused Gambari's now useful visit, doing everything in her power to let the world know of Myanmar's plight. What will the UN do about it?

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), this, on Russia-Georgia, and this --


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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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