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As S. Korea Park Says Ban Called on Abe, UN Silent, Theory Based on Poll

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 2 -- South Korean president Park Geun-hye went public four hours before this publication about a call her office said was initiated to her by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  Ban "discussed the situation in North Korea, regional tensions over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial war shrine and other issues of common interest, her office said."

  What were these other "issues of common interest"?  More than four hours after Park's office went public about the call, the UN through Ban's spokespeople or otherwise, has provided no information. This is a pattern.

  As 2013 ended at the UN, the question arose why Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement on tensions between Japan and Ban's native South Korea (and China) was given to regional media before the Press which had formally asked a question, and why Ban's spokesperson has been deflecting questions since.

The answer, proposed exclusively to Inner City Press by well-placed sources in South Korea, involves Ban Ki-moon being in a poll for the country's 2017 presidential election, as a candidate of incumbent Park's faction of the ruling Saenuri party. Click here for story on that polling, in Korean.

Last week, Inner City Press asked Ban's two top spokespeople:

"on South Sudan, in light of the SG's response at his last stakeout, please provide his / the UN's response to the subsequent report that

'The Korean side is now accusing the Japanese of politically using the emergency faced by Korean troops in South Sudan, with one unnamed official saying that the Abe government’s linking of the ammo supply to its 'active pacifism' initiative was a 'clear political provocation.' Another unnamed official said Korea had told the Japanese to handle this quietly out of fear that the locals would turn hostile and attack Korean troops if word got out that they’d received ammo, but the Japanese were instead turning this into a big story. Korean government officials are also saying that they intend to return all the ammo to Japan once Korean ammo arrives from Korea, despite the fact that the Japanese said they could keep it.'"

But the spokesperson, Martin Nesirky and Farhan Haq, never answered this question, or even acknowledged receiving it.

  While later a "Note to Correspondent" about Ban's position was sent out, and Inner City Press reported on it, it turned out that the very same Ban position had been given out to regional media 13 hours before. This practice is being opposed in 2014 by the Free UN Coalition for Access, whatever the motives of the practice.

  But here, as also illuminated by Ban spokesperson Nesirky's push-back at questions from Chinese media on December 30, and December 31 responding to Inner City Press' factual question about whether UNMISS had been contacted by the South Koreans before the South Koreans contacted Japan (and also about UNMISS' relationship with the American military or bullet-holders), there may be more.

  December 31 Q&A video here, and embedded below.

The theory, made composite from Inner City Press' South Korean sources, goes like this:

"South Korean peace keepers receive artillery fire from hostile forces -> SK field commanders immediately request ammunition shipment from Japanese peace keepers in the vicinity -> Japanese cabinet convenes an emergency meeting to approve the shipment -> shipment goes to SK -> upon media scrutiny (as this could mark a landmark shift in Japan's overseas defense activity), SK denies making a direct request to Japan and claims that it was made through UN (UNMISS) -> Japan refutes and even releases a clip from video conf between SK and JP units to prove its point -> UN supports SK's claim -> SK explains that the decision was made by field commanders... To put it succinctly [according to this theory]: Ban is potentially giving political cover for the Park administration by insisting on UN's role in the process."

So why didn't Ban's spokesperson answer Inner City Press' initial written question last week, or Inner City Press' in-person December 31 question? Such stonewalling only gives rise to more questions, or as here, theories. Or, when will it and the other so far ignored questions be answered? Watch this site.

Footnote: as context for most other than Chinese media on December 30 not pursuing this, consider that the insider United Nations Correspondents Association has accepted a large Samsung television, which was being installed on December 31.

 UNCA's 2013 and 2014 president Pamela Falk claimed that the TV does not involve any mission. But even the UN, when asked by Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, admitted that the TV equipment went from Samsung to South Korea's Mission to the UN to the UN and then to UNCA: it involved the South Korean mission and government. We'll have more on this. 
[January 2 update, and e-mail from "UNCA Office, here.]

Update: after 5:50 pm on New Years Eve the UN provided the responses below, which we publish just after 6 pm on December 31:

Subject: Your questions at noon on South Sudan
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 5:52 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question at noon today on Pariang, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has provided the following information from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS):

As of 31 December, UNMISS has 120 troops in its base in Pariang. The Mission reports it has no evidence that Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) elements are involved in the conflict in South Sudan.

On your question on the provision of ammunition to the South Korean engineering corps in UNMISS, this was a bilateral arrangement between two Member States. We suggest you direct your question to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea. In terms of the UNMISS role, the Mission transported the ammunition to the South Korean troops in Bor. The US is a troop contributor to UNMISS; it contributes five military personnel to the Mission.


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