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To Argentina on Ghana, No UN Good Offices, Ban Offered to Colombia on FARC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- After Argentina's foreign minister Hector Timerman met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 22 about Ghana's seizure of the frigate Libertad by Ghana, Ban's office issued a read-out that Ban "hope[d] that both Governments will find a way to address the matter on a bilateral basis."

  With the term good offices -- that is, Ban offering his "good offices" to two sides of a conflict if they want to use them -- in the air, Inner City Press on October 23 asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about it.  Specifically, did Ban offer his good offices?

   Twice, Nesirky repeated the line from the read out, that Ban "hope[s] that both Governments will find a way to address the matter on a bilateral basis." Video here, from Minute 7:36.

  And so the answer appears to be "no -- no offer of good offices."

   This contrasts to a recent answer Nesirky's office provided Inner City Press in response to its question of whether the UN plays any role between the government of Colombia and the FARC:

Subject: Your question on Colombia
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

Regarding your question at the noon briefing on Colombia, there has been no request for UN good offices. We shared the following guidance with reporters in August:
The Secretary-General was very pleased to learn that the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has confirmed exploratory talks between his Government and representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  The Secretary-General  hopes that this will be the start of a productive dialogue to address and resolve a conflict which has afflicted the Colombian people for almost five decades. As the Secretary-General has stated in the past, his good offices are available should they be deemed useful.

   So Ban Ki-moon offered his good offices to Colombia (for the FARC), but NOT to Argentina on Ghana's seizure for its frigate for a debt claimed by the NML Fund after Argentina's default in the early 2000s. Why not? Watch this site.

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