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When French DefMin Met UN's Ban, Was Syria on Agenda as Hagel Said?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 3 -- When French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian came to the UN on October 3, he was running late. But what topics would he discuss with the UN's Ban Ki-moon?

  Earlier in the day Le Drian had met with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Hagel said they discussed if France will join the US in airstrikes in Syria. Would Le Drian discuss this with Ban as well?

 (Even France 24 reported what Hagel said. To extrapolate to the UN is not a stretch - except, apparently, for big wigs or grands fromages in the UN press corps.)

With Ban for the meeting was Herve Ladsous, a former French diplomat who is the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping. As regards Syria, Ladsous most recently ordered peacekeepers from Fiji and the Philippines to surrender to the Jabhat al Nusra rebels, or terrorists, in the Golan Heights.

  When Inner City Press tried to asked Ladsous questions on September 26, Ladsous refused to answer. On September 27, as Inner City Press filmed from the entirely legal UN General Assembly stakeout area, Ladsous came over and blocked Inner City Press' camera and demanded, what do you want with this?

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has been asked twice about what Ladsous did, for the Free UN Coalition for Access, but has yet to respond. Dujarric previously told FUNCA that then French Ambassador Gerard Araud should have accorded a UN correspondent from Lebanon (more) respect rather than telling the correspondents, “You are not a journalist, you are an agent.” But Dujarric declined to instruct the French mission to this effect. Of Araud's replacement Francois Delattre the Press so far knows little but retains an open mind.

  Conceivably Le Drian would begin with discussion of Mali and the Central African Republic, French operations Serval and Sangaris respectively. In Mali Ladsous stands accused by Chad of using Chadian troops as cannon fodder. In Central African Republic, the Sangaris forces killed seven in Bambari this week; Inner City Press asked Dujarric if Ladsous' MINUSCA mission will look into it: no answer.

  For a meeting like Ban's with Le Drian, there should be a a read-out. Watch this site.


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