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On N. Korea, Ban's 2 Fast & Different Comments, On Golan Kidnaps, Slow & None

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- With North Korea firing short-range missiles into the sea again, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made targeted and then bland comments, back to back, to RIA Novosti and then in writing, through his spokesperson.

  In Moscow to RIA Novosti, Ban said "We are very worried over North Korea's provocative action. I hope North Korea will refrain from further such actions. They must soon return to talks and lower tensions."

  Three sentences, three pronouns. Who the "we" in the first sentence is meant to be is not clear: the UN Secretariat? Those traveling with Ban? The entire international community?

  Then the following was e-mailed out:

The Secretary-General is aware of reports that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) yesterday (18 May) launched short-range guided missiles into the sea off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula.

The Secretary-General remains concerned about provocations and tensions on the Korean Peninsula, particularly given the risks of miscalculation and dangerous escalation.

He stands ready to help facilitate the process of peace and trust-building on the Korean Peninsula.

Three separate paragraph (well, each one a sentence), less finger-pointing, more offering.

By contrast to this fast double comment on missile that hit only water, when UN Peacekeepers were kidnapped for the third time in the Golan Heights on May 15, Ban said... nothing.

The news was left to be "announced," if it can be called that, to small group of sympathetic reporters or sycophantic scribes by Herve Ladsous, whom Ban accepted without question from France as that country's fourth Peacekeeping boss in a row.

  When Inner City Press asked for confirmation and comment from Ban's three top spokespeople as well as Ladsous' three, the response came more than three hours later, from Ladsous' team, not Ban's.

  Then eight hours after that, Ban's office finally e-mailed out a confirmation of the kidnapping. Unlike on North Korea, it had no comment from Ban.

  On Friday at the UN, two countries' diplomats told Inner City Press it was "strange" and "inappropriate" for Ban to have waited so long, and then had no comment on the kidnapping of UN Peacekeepers.

  One opined it is because of the allegation in the General Assembly of the involvement in the kidnapping of Qatar, whose former Ambassador Ban has named the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

  In any event there are two comparisons: on North Korea between what Ban told RIA Novosti then what his spokesperson said, and between those two and his Office's delay and then no-Ban-comment on the kidnapping of UN Peacekeepers.

  We'll have more on this -- for now, here is video of Ban's deputy spokesman telling Inner City Press he wouldn't explain even when Ban's Office knew of the kidnapping, nor why it was left to the reclusive Ladsous to "announce" to scribes. The Free UN Coalition for Access protested this. Watch this site.

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