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Hyping Hollande, White House Talks Up Syria Aid, No Congress Because SF

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 10 -- To pump up French president Francois Hollande's solo visit to the United States, the White House held a background press call on February 10. A correspondent from Le Figaro asked, Why isn't Hollande being allowed to speak to a joint session of Congress, as on visits by previous French presidents?

A self-described Senior Administration Official cited Hollande's scheduling, that he's traveling to "California to visit some of our most innovative business." And it's true, on February 12 Hollande is slated to be in San Francisco, where France has a consulate which Inner City Press has previously covered.

  Voice of America, which is in essence US state media, asked a questions about the "counter-terrorism" operation in Central African Republic. It seemed a strange formulation; to some it cast in a different light what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says was France putting Muslim communities at risk by first disarming the ex Seleka.

  Al Hayat asked what President Obama can "offer" Hollande on Syria, and if the US will be attending a Friends of Lebanon Group meeting in Paris. The Senior Administration Official responded that Obama and Hollande will discuss efforts on humanitarian aid in Syria: seemingly, the draft UN Security Council resolution that Russia has already said is a non-starter.

  While the Senior Administration Official said Obama and Hollande will talk about Syria's "moderate opposition," there was no mention, or question, about the UN's finding that the Free Syrian Army recruits and uses child soldiers, supposedly a big issue for France (and subject of the US 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act). We'll have more on this.

  In other diplomatic news, in UN Federal court in New York a UN Office of Legal Affairs letter has been filed stating that Indian diplomat Khobragade, who was arrested and strip searched and who the US says it will still go after if she returns to the US, had or obtained full diplomatic immunity. Watch this site.


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