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At UN, Outgoing Assembly Prez Denies He Served Qatar, Won't Disclose Funding

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 14 -- When Qatar's Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser came to do his final UN press conference as President of the General Assembly (PGA), he said he could not speak for Qatar.

  Inner City Press asked him about Qatar's funding of his year as PGA: how much did Qatar pay, and how closely aligned was what he did as PGA with Qatar's foreign policy? Video here, from Minute 33:50.

  Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, after a disarming "I like your questions," denied there was a connection. He said, "I cannot carry hidden agenda, I cannot decide for member states."

  While that might be true on some matters, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser issued statements without any vote of the membership, traveled and gave speeches seemingly on behalf of the GA, on Qatar's priority issues.

  Contrary to UN officials who calls for a cessation of violence by all sides in Syria, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser on Friday said it all depends on the authorities stopping. Under his watch, UN Television cut off just as Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari began to speak.

   To be fair, when Nicaragua's Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann was PGA, he flew to Honduras about the coup d'etat against Zalaya and pushed a Grupo ALBA agenda. Nicaragua did not provide the funds for all this work so d'Escoto Brockmann was reduced to raising funds from individuals, none of it disclosed.

  Speaking of flying, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the past year has accepted, and disclosed only after questioning by Inner City Press, free air travel from Qatar.

  Would he accept such freebies from all UN member states? Could all member states afford to make the offer -- or to be PGA?

  Inner City Press asked Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser if he thought, to be equitable to poorer countries like Nepal which he and Qatar beat out for Presidency of the GA's 66th session, PGA funds in the future should just come out of the UN budget.

  Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser seemed to agree, saying he has urged the Fifth (Budget) Committee and Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Matters to provide a sufficient PGA budget.

  But when asked on Friday he did not disclose how much Qatar provided him; Inner City Press has previously asked his office in writing without this number being disclosed.

  Such disclosure would be a first baby-step for UN reform --- click here for Inner City Press coverage of the budget of the incoming PGA Vuk Jeremic of Serbia, characterized by Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser as "full of ambition." Watch this site.

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