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At UN on Syria, Silence Broken on Press Statement, 3 pm Showdown on PRST?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 20 -- Even as the UN Security Council met about Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, the talk was of the pending Syria Presidential and Press Statements.

On the latter, the silence procedure was broken by the UK, this month's Council President, despite the text being described to Inner City Press by India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri as the same terrorism Press Statement as usual, this time including the admonition to comply with human rights while fighting terrorism.

  Inner City Press asked, why was silence broken? "For leverage," Hardeep Singh Puri answered.

  Later in the morning Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud if his country had any problems with the draft press statement. No, he said -- but the Press and Presidential Statements will be adopted together, or not at all.

To support Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's mission, Hardeep Singh Puri recounted that his country, along with Togo and South Africa, had suggested a Presidential Statement, after the UK proposed a resolution.

France drafted the Presidential Statement, which Inner City Press obtained and put online yesterday, but included at the end:

The Security Council calls upon the Syrian government and opposition to commit to work in good faith with the Joint Special Envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point plan.

The Security Council requests the Joint Special Envoy to update regularly the Council on the progress of his activities, and decides to review the implementation of the six-point plan within 7 days and to consider further measures.

Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud if there would be a meeting of Permanent Representatives about this statement on Tuesday afternoon. He said, if it is not agreed to at the expert level this morning, the Permanent Representatives will meet at 3 pm.

A question is, does supporting Kofi Annan or his six point plan imply supporting the Arab League plan, including on "political transition"? That's an issue, Hardeep Singh Puri said and then went into the Council's open session on Afghanistan.

  It has been multiply confirmed to Inner City Press that Syria refuses to accept entry by Arab League selected deputy Nassar Al Kidwa, if he comes representing the Arab League.

 Meanwhile Tuesday should see the UN belatedly name or confirm Jean Marie Guehenno as Kofi's "other" deputy. Guehenno was the second of now four Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping. Some wonder, does the UN dream of sending peacekeepers to Syria, as it dreamed but was rejected in Libya? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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