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UN "Press Encounter" on Chemical Weapons is All Syria, Allows No Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1 -- With chemical weapons in the news, when UN correspondents were urged to attended a media stakeout or "press encounter" with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the topic from 2:40 to 3:00 pm on Monday, one assumed that questions could be asked. That's what would make it a press "encounter" or stakeout, right?


  Ban arrived with the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmed Uzumcu, and launched into prepared remarks. He mentioned Syria three times; it was the only country that he mentioned.

  Then Uzumcu spoke, more briefly, also mentioning Syria. Inner City Press indicated it had a question -- two, actually -- but raised hand. But Ban and his spokesman turned and left. The encounter was over.

  As was the goal, Ban's comments were quickly disseminated. But what about questions?

  Among those that could be asked: are personnel of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons present in Libya, particularly after the events in Benghazi? Which ARE the countries which have not met deadlines to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles? Do these include the host country? Why was this not mentioned?

  The UN Secretariat will be having another 30 minute press "inter-action" on October 2, about the events at the UN of the last week. But it will not be Ban Ki-moon, but rather his new deputy, Jan Eliasson. Watch this site.

Footnote: as Ban's spokesman pointed out to Inner City Press earlier, Ban has had a grueling series of 20 minute meetings to visiting heads of state and foreign minister in the past week. Understandable. But then don't call it a "press encounter," if no questions will be allowed. Some say, just film it up in Ban's office....

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