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Obama's UN Speech Said Africa-Free, 3/4 Iran & Syria, Fundraising Not Shown

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 -- While a high percentage of the UN's work is in Africa, whenever Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sees a chance to be relevant on a higher profile issue like Syria or the Middle East, he drops Africa like a hot potato (or yam).

  But on the White House call about Obama's upcoming trip to the UN General Assembly, Africa was not mentioned in any of the eight questions taken. Nor did Obama adviser Ben Rhodes include in his summary of Obama's speech either Sudan, or Somalia, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  The first three questions were about Iran; the next three about Syria. Finally a former UN-based reporter asked about a different issue (still not Africa, but Afghanistan and Pakistan).

  Unmentioned was that Obama will be holding a DNC fundraiser while in New York, and that yesterday he nominated Bruce Heyman of Goldman Sachs as US Ambassador to Canada.

As if in another world, UN envoy to the Great Lake Mary Robinson spoke on Friday afternoon and said that the US devoting its one Security Council debate in July to the DR Congo meant it is important to the US. Really?

  In fairness, Obama's first bilateral meeting on September 23 will be with Goodluck Jonathan. But that would seem to be because Obama missed Nigeria in his trip, in favor of Senegal then South Africa.

  Ban Ki-moon will get the Obama face time that he prized, slipped in between Obama's speech then meetings with Lebanon and Palestine and the UNGA lunch. Will Ban raise an African issue? We doubt it. Watch this site.

Footnote: There would have been a ninth question, but Daniel Robinson of Voice of America did not respond when called on. John Kerry is on the Broadcasting Board of Governors of VOA, so presumably they have other access. We'd heard VOA was getting its budget cut, but damn. We'll have more on this.


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