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On Syria, Russia Says US Blocked Statement on Car Bomb, Brahimi Re-Ups

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 21, updated twice – After a deadly car bombing in Damascus on Thursday, at the UN Russia circulated a boilerplate Security Council press statement condemning the “terrorist attack.”

  The Security Council routinely issues such statements, whether the attack is in Baghdad, New Delhi or Nigeria. The UNTV camera was left up at the stakeout after the Council concluded its morning meetings.

  But 2 pm, when Inner City Press had been told the Syria statement might be read out by this month's Security Council president, Kim Sook of South Korea, came and went.

  Inner City Press remained in front of the Security Council, periodically hearing from sources that agreement on the press statement was becoming more unlikely.

   It was after 6 pm that the Russian Mission to the UN circulated its own press release, going public with the dispute, and saying that its draft statement was “blocked by the US delegation linking it with other questions... By doing so the US delegation encourages those who have been repeatedly targeting American interests, including US diplomatic missions.”

  Can you say, Benghazi? Susan Rice?

Inner City Press is putting the Russian press release online, here.

  Meanwhile, when Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had renewed his contract for six months, Nesirky said no, Brahimi and his team were re-upped to the end of the year. Watch this site.

Update 1 -- after publication of the above, a UN Security Council diplomat came forward with a paragraph that was proposed to be added to the draft:

“The members of the Security Council also condemned the Syrian government’s continued, indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry against civilians, including its February 18 launch of ballistic missiles in residential areas of Aleppo and February 21 airstrikes that hit a field hospital in Dera’a.  The members of the Security Council called upon all sides of the conflict to respect international law.”

This is the Russian draft to which it was proposed to be added:

Draft Press Statement on Terrorist Attacks in Damascus

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that occurred in downtown Damascus, Syria on 21 February, 2013, in close proximity to diplomatic missions, causing scores of deaths and injuries. They expressed their deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims of these heinous acts and to their families, and to the people of Syria.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.

The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.

Update 2 -- Later still, US Mission spokesperson Erin Pelton responded to the Russian press release: "We strongly condemn all indiscriminate terrorist attacks against civilians or against diplomatic facilities. We agreed with the Russian draft of a statement from the Security Council and only sought to add similar language on the regime's brutal attacks against the Syrian people. Unfortunately, Russia refused to engage on a credible text."

Analysis: it doesn't seem that the "three B's" process is getting very far. And yet Brahimi re-upped, and for the rest of the year. Is he bullish on dysfunction? Watch this site.

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