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As UN Confirms Ban to Iran for NAM, Questions of Feltman & Qatar on Syria, UNSC Echoes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- After bristling at an online read-out by Israel's Bibi Netanyahu, and after being spoken to more quietly by the US' Susan Rice, Ban Ki-moon's office Wednesday at noon announced that Ban will in fact be going to Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement meeting at the end of August.

  Inner City Press, which had twice before Wednesday asking about the trip, questioned its link to Ban's top political adviser Jeffrey Feltman's briefing that morning to the Security Council.

  Feltman said Ban is concerned about arms flows to all parties in Syria, but cited only Resolution 1747, which covers Iran's exports. Are Ban and Feltman equally concerned about exports by Saudi Arabia and Qatar?

  Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, as regards the trip, said that this issue will come up. (At about the same time in closed door Security Council consultations, Inner City Press has learned, Russia was asking Feltman why he hadn't mentioned Qatar, telling him to read the newspapers more often.)

  When Inner City Press asked if Feltman had advised Ban against the trip to Iran, if there was any response, Nesirky said the response is that Ban "is going."

  Was this known all along? What is its relation to Team Ban's pique at Bibi? Last Wednesday Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: There’s a Haaretz story, quoting Benjamin Netanyahu having done a readout of his side of the call that was had, saying that the UN Office of the Spokesman was critical of that. And so I’ve asked you before, what’s the difference with this call? Was it said by the Secretary-General that there should be no readout of the call? Because your side does do readouts--

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Matthew, we do readouts sometimes and we don’t do readouts sometimes, and we’re not going to comment on calls that may or may not have taken place last week.

Inner City Press: Is this something that’s decided between the Secretary-General and the leader at issue, whether it’s going to be read out?

Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General decides when he wants a readout issued of a meeting or a phone call or an encounter of some type, and then the readout is issued.

Inner City Press: So is the other side free to do its own readout without incurring any anger or dissatisfaction from the Secretary-General’s Office? That’s what happened here. It’s reported that Bibi Netanyahu put it on the Internet, what he told Ban Ki-moon, and that the UN didn’t like that. And I just wanted to know is that --

Deputy Spokesperson: I would say that each side is free to do what it wants to, but there are courtesy issues involved. And, normally, I would suggest that, I know when the Secretary-General does a meeting, normally when he issues a readout, normally both sides know that there’s going to be a readout issued.

  Israel is "all in" in urging non-attendance in Tehran. And in Australia, Shadow Minister Foreign for Foreign Affairs and Trade Julie Bishop is urging Permanent Representative to the UN Gary Quinlan not to go.

  Non-shadow Foreign Minister Bob Carr has said Quinlan is going. Australia is running for a Security Council seat, against Finland and Luxembourg, and may remember what happened to Canada last time, when it lost out to Germany and Portugal. Watch this site.

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