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At UN in Geneva, Iran Speaking English, Facebook Back Pain, Reuters Quartet

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 15 -- With the UN in New York closed for Eid, the UN in Geneva is hosting the Iran P5+1 talks, complete with normally open doors locked and the gray cubicle walls that pass for security or privacy in UN-world.

  Iran's Javad Zarif is still suffering from back pain -- this first according to Doctor Cathy Ashton of the EU -- but made his proposal in painfully archaic PowerPower on Tuesday morning. Then he returned to his hotel. Forced metaphors about Iranian hard-liners as the albatross on his back holding back the talks are sure to follow.

 The talks were held in English, leaving some wondering if France lodged a Francophony based protest as they often do at the UN in New York.

When Zarif last met Ban Ki-moon in New York, going up to Ban's 38th floor office to cover it were only Inner City Press and five Iranian reporters. But Geneva has (over?) full coverage, with Reuters "winning" the battle of excess with four separate reporters. One of them has demonstrably spied for the UN, click here for that, so the full count is not clear.

There are photos of the handshakes and even journalists' photos of other journalists' laptop live-tweeting, what else, photos. Whatever happens it will be documented.

 Back on the last day of the UN General Debate, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Martin Nesirky postponed the day's noon briefing in deference to Israel's Bibi Netanyahu's speech.

 Then he started it up right over Iran's right of reply. When Inner City Press asked why, he said that all "hard news" reporters understood, and that he'd been a journalist for a quarter of a century. Oh. Video here.

   On Monday in the UN Legal Committee in New York, Iran trashed the threat of use of force without UN permission. The US on the other hand said dryly that a study of the third state impact of sanctions is no longer needed.

  With the US government shutdown ongoing, the State Department is maintaining a virtual Twitter strike. While this was presented as the reason for US UN Ambassador Samantha Power's radio silence during the Security Council's recent Africa trip -- misreported by Reuters -- the US Mission to the UN did Tweet some news when she returned. Then stopped.

  And so the field is open for the new Iranian administration and its social media skills, including back pain on Facebook. Bring it on! Watch this site.


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