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At UN, Bragging of Sudans Deal But Abyei Unresolved and Little on Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- A high-level meeting on the Sudans was convened at the UN Thursday afternoon, less than a day after Presidents Omar al Bashir and Salva Kiir reached agreements in Addis Ababa. It seemed there would be drama, and so when "interested media" were summoned to cross the barricades and go into the meeting, Inner City Press went.

  Conference Room 3 was less than half full. Sudan was represented by Foreign Minister Ali Karti, with whom Inner City Press spoke earlier in the week. A member of his delegation conceded to Inner City Press that "Abyei is not yet agreed," but predicted it would soon be.

  Another African Union source came over and told Inner City Press "it'll have to be decided by the PSC," the Peace and Security Council of the AU.

On a television screen in the front of the room, a major player seemed to be missing: Thabo Mbeki, the head of the High Level Implementation Panel. "He's delegated it," a Security Council member told Inner City Press.

Earlier in the day on another unresolved Sudan conflict, Darfur, the UN told Inner City Press a day after it asked that

"UNAMID was prevented by Government security authorities from access to the Kushina area (approximately 20 km south-east of Tawilla, North Darfur) to verify reports of fighting between Government and movement forces. UNAMID peacekeepers are continuing to endeavour to gain access to the area. The Mission is calling on Government officials at all levels to allow its personnel unrestricted freedom of movement throughout Darfur."

But this does not seem to be repeated, at least now, at the top levels at the General Debate.

From Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's team, there was the head of the Department of Field Support Amira Haq, and off to the side her deputy Tony Banbury. Her predecessor Susana Malcorra was in the front, now Ban's chief of staff. There was speechwriter Michael Meyer and former deputy chief of staff, now "Change Management" tzar Kim Won-soo, working the crowd.

Norway's foreign minister came in, with his Permanent Representative and able, Sudan-focused staff. That Norwegian Hilde Johnson heads the UN's mission in South Sudan gives the country an additional "dog in the hunt," as the Clintonian colloquialism has it.

Hillary Clinton is in town, but not present at this meeting, just as she was not at the meeting with Ban of the other foreign ministers of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council. That was handled by Susan Rice, who was not present at the beginning of the Sudans meeting.

In fairness, in the hall outside was a Rwandan delegation, and Inner City Press surmises that Rice was meeting with that country's foreign minister. (The Mission would not confirm this, but indicted that Rice would participate in the later stages of the Sudans meeting).

Ban Ki-moon arrived, shaking hands all around, then delivered his upteenth speech of the day. This was followed by the AU's outgoing Jean Ping, who noted his successor -- painfully, one imagines, given the hard two-round electoral campaign between them.

Then the UN's top Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous said, we will wait for the press to be escorted from the room. As noted, Ladsous has since May repeatedly refused to answer any questions from Inner City Press. Somehow, despite the UN, the news continues to be reported -- but it is too often "despite the UN." Watch this site.

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