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UN Open Meeting on Nuke Free Mid East Blacked Out, US Absent "Due to Shutdown"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 8 -- It was listed in the UN's Media Alert: "Special Event on the Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Egypt and the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs)."

It was listed in Conference Room 7 in the North Lawn Building, a room with video cameras where events are routinely put on UN Television and in-house EZTV. But when the time came, the screen for Room 7 was in test pattern.

If the meeting was open, why not broadcast it? The Free UN Coalition for Access put the question by e-mail to the official in charge of UNTV, Stephane Dujarric, then ran over to try to attend the meeting in-person.

It was standing room only. In fact, the crowd spilled out into the cement-floored hallway of the UN's North Lawn Building. Photo tweeted by @FUNCA_info here. Inside, Egypt's Permanent Representative joked that even when Egypt is at the table, it is often on the menu.

Next to him, the UN's High Representative on Disarmament Angela Kane listened and prepared to leave early for another presentation she had to make, about chemical weapons in Syria.

  An irony of the non-broadcast, noted by Inner City Press: in September a meeting between Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a women's group, though listed as closed, was broadcast by UNTV and Ban Ki-moon appeared saying Bashar al Assad has committed many crimes against humanity and Ake Sellstrom's report, which Ban had not yet seen, was "overwhelming."

  Tuesday's meeting on a Nuclear Free Middle East was listed as "open" -- but was not televised by the UN.

  The Russian Federation's speaker said that "someone" must pressure Israel to cooperate with the process.

Iran spoke, saying if we cannot put "outsiders" -- that is, Israel -- in, it's meaningless, and saying to focus universality of the NPT, the Non Proliferation Treaty.

Israel earlier on Tuesday complained to Ban about Iran becoming rapporteur for the General Assembly Committee on Disarmement.

A Frankfurt-based NGO said that reason the US was not represented at the meeting was because of the government shutdown (or slim-down, as some call it).

But there is no slowdown in spending, at the highest levels, in the UN. So why wasn't this meeting broadcast, as Ban's "closed" meeting on Syria was?

Near the meeting's end, the UN's Stephane Dujarric replied, "I don't know. You should ask the organizers."

And so Inner City Press did, asking Egypt's Deputy Permanent Representative if his country has asked that the open meeting not be shown on UN Television. No, he said, they had not.

So why wasn't this meeting shown? The Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info has in another series of questions, which Stephane Dujarric has indicated he will be answering. Watch this site.


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