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As S. Korea Hands DPRK Hot Potato to Russia, Substance Over Speed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 – As South Korea's month atop the UN Security Council comes to an end, no Council resolution about North Korea's February 12 nuclear test was adopted. Rather on Thursday afternoon Inner City Press watched as South Korean staffers carried out of the Council a small refrigerator, tea makers, cups and saucers, plants.

  Throughout the month, while North Korean diplomats did not come to the Security Council, Inner City Press observed them meeting and speaking with mid-level diplomats of non-Permanent Security Council members: working it.

  As South Korean Permanent Representative Kim Sook left on Thursday, Inner City Press asked him if he had left the “hot potato” of North Korea behind inside the Council for the incoming Russian presidency.

  He laughed then grew more serious. He said:

the February 12 nuclear test by NK is something condemnable and we were reminded that we need to put up with the significant measures and we're in the process of negotiation on the language on the resolution. I think the press may have to wait a few more days to be able to see the outcome in this. But today I say that the content of the resolution is more important than the speed and the pace that we are making. One thing I appreciate is both sides, US and China are very serious. They have not yet reached to the point where we have something tangible but it does not mean they are doing some sort of tactical tug of war. They are not doing that, they are very serious. They are in agreement with the fact that North Korea should pay the price and in what manner and how much should the payment be, it's a degree out there still and they are still talking. The Republic of Korea is one of the direct concerned parties and we're in closed consultations with those members of the Security Council.”

There has been some criticism of the US - Chinese domination of the issue, but none of it on the record. To the ever-present and hard-working J-squad, both the UK and France spoke Thursday morning.

UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said, “the nuclear test on the 12th of February and that there had been an immediate response promising that there would be a strong, robust response to come and we knew that delegations were working on that and we hope that something strong will be adopted very shortly. I think more or less everyone referred to that."

He was asked, “Are negotiations still in bi-laterals between China and the US?

Lyall Grant replied, “Well there's a number of different discussions going on I don't want to go into details on that. But clearly we hope that they will come into fruition very quickly."

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said, of the morning's wrap-up session, "everybody brought up North Korea saying that we have to move forward on a resolution as quickly as possible."

When Araud was asked about if he had seen a text he replied, smiling, "I am not going to tell you." And so it goes at the UN.

Ambassador Rice Tells ICP Mali Is "Moving Target," Might Need Subsequent Steps

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- The day before France said a Mali resolution would be voted on by the UN Security Council, still no final "blue" draft for voting has been circulated.

  An African diplomat told Inner City Press at noon on Wednesday that "now it's bilat[eral]s between France and the US, with an Algerian element thrown in."

  Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Rice if it would be accurate to report that's now at the stage of bilateral meetings between the US and France. She stopped and asked, what's the real question?

  Given this chance, Inner City Press asked if the US would agree, as France wants, to a single resolution providing the full support package for ECOWAS to support the current Malian authorities to reconquer Northern Mali.

  (Significantly, the current Malian authorities may include Sanogo and others involved in the coups d'etat).

   Ambassador Rice said, we are negotiating the current resolution, and that doesn't mean there won't be a need for subsequent steps, "it's a moving target." She said the US is working well with France and others.

  The day previous on December 18, when Inner City Press asked the shorter version of the question, Inner City Press asked  Ambassador Rice said, "It's being negotiated," she replied. Inner City Press asked, vote this week, Friday? Ambassador Rice, said, "If it's ready."

  Back on December 12, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about Mali:

Inner City Press: One quick question on Mali. This resignation, or forced resignation, of the Prime Minister that took place earlier this week -- does it change the U.S.'s thinking at all on how the Council should proceed in terms of authorizing a force to reclaim Northern Mali?

Ambassador Rice: Well, as you, Mali has been and remains a very complex situation and from the United States' point of view we have multiple parallel interests and objectives, one of which, is the swiftest possible restoration of democratic government in Bamako. And indeed, what has transpired over the last few days is yet another setback in that regard. But we also are very much committed to collective effort, to ensure that there is not an enduring safe haven for terrorists in the north of Mali. And the Security Council resolution that is under discussion is yet another in a progression of potential actions and some obviously prior actions that we are working on to address, in particular, the challenge of restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity and ridding terrorists from the north of Mali. So we’ll continue to work with that interest at heart.

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