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At UN, Araud's Slated Replacement Audibert Takes Sherpa Job, Free Press Suffers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 30, more here -- Within the French diplomatic service, Jacques Audibert was to come to New York in July to belatedly replace Gerard Araud as Ambassador.

  Now it is not to be: Audibert is leaving his Quay d'Orsay post, including on the Iran P5+1, to become Francois Hollande's “G7 and G8 sherpa.” This will leave Araud in place, at least for now.

  On April 15, Araud used the UN Press Briefing Room to tell a Lebanese correspondent with whom he disagrees, “You are not a journalist, you are an agent.” The old UN Correspondents Association, atuned to Araud's granting or withholding of access, has “dragged its feet” in providing any push-back, according to the correspondent.

  Since December when he was asked for France to be transparent about how much it is charging the UN under a “Letter of Assist” for air field services in northern Mali, Araud has resisted Press questions. He threatened to sue about an article using an NYPD document on which his mission had been asked to comment in advance, but chose instead to try to intimidate against publication by saying it would be a “hostile act” and access would cease.

  In April, Araud got combative in essentially denying what other Security Council members confirm has been French policy on Western Sahara; then he declared a publicized ($20) question and answer session to be entirely off the record.

So what will Araud remaining at the UN mean? There's more here. Watch this site.

Footnote: For the upcoming G7 (not G8) in Paris, Hollande is slated to dine with US President Barack Obama on June 5 -- and, as pointed out, to also dine with Putin. US Ben Rhodes hastened to say there will be no “trilateral” dinner, maybe Hollande dines more than once. We'll see.


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