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As New Sanctions Loom, Iran's Kebab Diplomacy Heats Up at UN, Nuclear Stew

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 28 -- As the UN Security Council inched closer to a vote on new sanctions on Iran, two blocks east at the Iranian Mission, kebabs and stew were on offer to journalists who called themselves the "B team." Iran's Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee sat at the head of the table, not eating but telling stories of his efforts on behalf of cinema in his country. He told a French reporter that he sounded if not looked like Alain Delon. "He is very popular in our country," Khazaee said of Delon, putting Jean-Paul Belmondo in the same pantheon. Inner City Press asked for the Iranian view of Gerard Depardieu, decidedly C list. Not so much, it seems. "A different generation," Khazaee said. But what of Jean Reno?

            The purpose of the lunch meeting, a sort of second seating after the one elsewhere reported earlier in the week, was to highlight portions of the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report, and to explain why the Council should not be voting on new sanctions. Inner City Press asked about the specifics of who would be sanctioned, who is on the annex to the resolution, still withheld by its sponsors. Khazaee said that there are two banks on the list, but that he doesn't remember the last minute switch in a previous resolution, when the Iranian government's Aerospace Industries Organization was dropped from the annex at the eleventh hour at Russia's request. So has he seen the current list? Khazaee said no, he has not.

Iran presents Ban to Ban, kebab diplomacy not shown

            A pot of Iranian stew was placed on the table by an aide whose name incongruously sounded like Eye Candy. Ambassador Khazaee spooned some stew onto the plate of the journalist next to him. I am full, the reporter signaled. Khazaee shook his head, you must try some. Eventually the scribe gave in. Then another, and another. This press corps cannot be bought off. The previous night, Council president for February Panama doled out roast beef and shrimp along with an open bar in the Delegates Dining Room. As a Permanent Five ambassador took bets on the timing of sanctions, North Korea's permanent representative stood off by himself smiling, as takes place at least monthly. Indonesia conveyed doubts about the Iran resolution, indicating abstention or even a "no" vote. We'll see.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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