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On Way to Iran, Ban Makes Time for Those He Met JFK With, Syria's on Brahimi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 27, updated Aug 29 -- On the eve of heading to Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement summit and other meetings, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon late Monday held photo ops and then a seminar and dinner with people he'd met John F. Kennedy with fifty years ago.

  In groups of two and three, or sometimes alone, Ban's long ago colleagues posed for a half dozen photographers, mostly South Korean but including UN Photo and Inner City Press; some said a few words for UN Television. "About Lebanon," one of them began.

  "Later," Ban replied genially. Ban told the press of a dinner later at the Korean Mission -- participants on the multi-day VISTA reunion told Inner City Press that Mission picked up much of the tab -- after a "seminar" in North Lawn conference room 6.

  "How does my office compare with the White House?" Ban asked a participant. When the review was not favorable, he added "this is my temporary office, we have to move back" -- he gestured at the now filling back up Secretariat Building.

  The UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit added the photo op at the last minute, and Ban seemed surprised to see some of the photographers there. Click here for a tweeted photo.

  There were, however, South Korean videographers following the VISTA tour of the UN, and having MALU staff take personal pictures for them.

Update of Aug 29: Further inquiry by Inner City Press has yielded answers that the South Korean mission picked up much of the tab. We also wish to make clear, as we thought it was, that MALU staff was paid by no one by the UN.

  Ban's new political adviser Jeffrey Feltman, who is going on the trip to Iran even if some say he cautioned against it, was seen buzzing around one story below in a light suit coat.

  On the way up, Inner City Press stopped and spoke with Rwanda's foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who has been critical of the Ban-approved coordinator of the DR Congo Sanctions Group of Experts, Steve Hege.

  Many fights remain at the UN, including Thursday French-organized ministerial meeting on Syria. After 7 pm, Ahmad Fawzi the spokesman for Kofi Annan and it seem Lakhdar Brahimi was still pacing around in the hall outside the Ban VISTA seminar. But Ban is off for Iran. Watch this site.

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