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Araud To Leave UN July 15, France Said, But He's Still Here, Where's Delattre?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16, more here -- The departure of Gerard Araud from the UN as French Ambassador was belatedly confirmed in June, more than two months after it was reported by Inner City Press.

  Here is the French government announcement, saying Araud would leave July 15 to be replaced by Francois Delattre, formerly French Ambassador in Washington.

 But on the morning of July 16, Inner City Press witnessed -- and photographed, here -- Araud entering the Security Council. So is this formal French announcement not true?

  The question is asked in part because the switch from Araud, one hopes, will bring press freedom improvements at the UN.

 Araud and Delattre have been linked before, on the question on who in the French foreign service met about Western Sahara with actor Javier Bardem, after which Bardem said Morocco had been called France's mistress. First Delattre was named, then Araud - who said he would ask Laurent Fabius for permission to sue. It hasn't happened.

  Within the French diplomatic service, it was Jacques Audibert who was to come to New York in July to belatedly replace Gerard Araud as Ambassador.

  Then it was not to be: Audibert left his Quay d'Orsay post, including on the Iran P5+1, to become Francois Hollande's “G7 and G8 sherpa.” This seemed to leave Araud in place - until today.

  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.

  There's more here. Watch this site.


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