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On Geneva II, Ban's One-Way Press Encounter Does Not Say If Iran Invited, No Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- After the UN announced January 22 as the date of the Geneva II talks on Syria at 6 am in New York on Monday, then they urgently provided nothing that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "will speak to the press today at approximately 9:30 am in room S-237 regarding the Geneva II conference on Syria." Click here for Inner City Press story on the first announcement.

  Questions were obvious, including whether or not Iran is invited. UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the press that who is invited is up to Ban Ki-moon.

  But once in the UN Press Briefing Room, when Ban arrived his spokesman said he would take no questions "at this time."

  Then Ban read a 400-some word statement, ending "I understand that you may have many questions in this regard, but I am sure Lakhdar Brahimi will be able to answer at least some of your questions in Geneva."

  The Free UN Coalition for Access has previously asked the UN not only why Ban does not take questions, but why the UN doesn't at least tell journalists in advance that no questions will not be taken, so they can choose or not to be extras, like in a film. (The UN's response was, your presence is not mandatory.)

  Many UN officials, not for attribution of course, shake their heads about Ban's no- or few-questions approach. If all you have, beyond an army with impunity, is your words and soapbox, why not use them? Why indeed.

Here are Ban Ki-moon's 414 words - no questions:

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you will have seen by now, earlier this morning, I was pleased to announce that the Geneva conference on Syria will take place on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

At long last and for the first time, the Syrian Government and opposition will meet at the negotiating table instead of the battlefield.

I want to express my profound gratitude to the Initiating States, the Governments of the Russian Federation and the United States, other Member States, as well as Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi for their hard work through many long months, indeed years. I understand that the Joint Representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, will speak to reporters in Geneva a bit later.

This is a mission of hope.

We go with a clear understanding: The Geneva conference is the vehicle for a peaceful transition that fulfills the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, and which guarantees safety and protection to all communities in Syria.

And we have a clear goal: the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, including the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities.

The fighting has raged on far too long -- with more than 100,000 dead, almost nine million driven from their homes, countless missing and detained, and terrible violations of human rights.

The war continues to send tremors through the region and has forced unacceptable burdens on Syria’s neighbours.

I expect all partners and parties to demonstrate their support for constructive negotiations.

All must show vision and leadership.

Even though the conference will take place in about eight weeks, all parties can and must begin now to take steps to help the Geneva conference succeed, including toward the cessation of violence, humanitarian access, release of detainees and return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people to their homes.

As I have repeatedly said, the only way to truly end the violence and suffering is through an inclusive Syrian-led political process.

The war in Syria remains the world’s biggest threat to international peace and security.

It would be unforgivable not to seize this opportunity to bring an end to the suffering and destruction it has caused.

I understand that you may have many questions in this regard, but I am sure Lakhdar Brahimi will be able to answer at least some of your questions in Geneva.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Watch this site.


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