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As UNGA Starts, Ban's Selective Talk with Mali & Bahrain, Quiet Germany, Corporate CGI

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- Before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon headed crosstown Sunday to the General Assembly's doppelganger, the Clinton Global Initiative, his office issued five read-outs of five meetings that morning.

  Notably, while for four of the meetings the UN purported to summarize what both sides said, for the meeting with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, there was only a single sentence, on what Ban raise: "The Secretary-General discussed the situations in Syria and Lebanon, as well as the Middle East peace process."

   No Africa; no Iran. And no Guido.

  Each of the other four read-outs, including Mali and Bahrain as well as Kuwait and Estonia, summarized that "they" discussed. For Mali, which controls less than half its territory, the UN summarized:

"The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister [Cheick Modibo Diarra] exchanged views on the situation in northern Mali...[Ban] reassured him of the United Nations full support to Mali in its efforts to fully re-establish constitutional order and its territorial integrity."

  The last phrase seems to imply that UN automatically supports territorial integrity. Of course, it's variance from that principle that the new President of the General Assembly, Serbia's Vuk Jeremic, has complained for years. But does Ban's summary today mean he will say the same to Georgia? Will he raise the prison abuse scandal there?

  The read-out for Bahrain was lengthy, despite the decidedly different response to crackdown on protesters and bloggers in Bahrain and the rest of the region and world. The UN said Ban

"welcomed the commitment made by His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa, to dialogue, good governance and genuine democracy... He also emphasized that a genuine, all-inclusive dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahraini communities is the best way to promote lasting peace, stability, justice and economic progress in Bahrain."

  The read-outs for Estonia and Kuwait were predictable: International Criminal Court and Iraq, respectively. There will be many such read-outs this month (click here for Inner City Press coverage and video of Ban's meetings with the United Arab Emirates and Arab League on September 21.) And a pro-corporate mood: over at the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton's opening statement veered from praising Suntech and Tom Golisano to Proctor & Gamble, even the Freeport mining firm.

  Ban Ki-moon, who put the chairman of Bank of America tops his Sustainable Energy for All group, was there, set to rush back to the real (old?) UN to speed-meet with leaders of the Maldives, Malawi, Finland, Bulgaria, Ahmadinejad of Iran, Luis Federico Franco Gómez (and not Lugo) of Paraguay and Dimitris L. Avramopoulos, FM of Greece. We'll be there. Watch this site.

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