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As South Korea Hands DPRK Hot Potato to Russia, France Won't Say

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 – As South Korea's month as President of 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.

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