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At UNGA's Surreal Stakeout, Swiss Small 5 Lost in Translation, Morocco Runs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- Even penned in cavernous Conference Room 1 during a badly administered first day of the UN General Debate, opportunities that seem potentially newsworthy crop up unexpected.

  Between scheduled "media availability" stakeouts by Julia Gillard of Australia and Guatemala's president, Switzerland's president Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf appeared on UN Television speaking at the stakeout microphone.

  After first her answers were in German. But then an Australian journalist asked if Europeans would vote, in the current Security Council seat race, for Luxembourg and Finland rather than Australia.

  She declined this question, but half-answered the next one, about Obama or Romney. She said they would be the same on banks, that she has a preference but will not say it.

  As she responded to a question about sanctions on Iran, Inner City Press ran from the Media Center along a corridor of blue painted barricades to the stakeout and asked a Swiss question: does the "Small Five" effort to reform the Security Council's working methods survive its withdrawal earlier this year?

To be diplomatic, it seems the question was misheard. She answered "2022," apparently that Switzerland is running for a Security Council seat in a decade's time. She called it a "one year term," when the terms are for two years.

Afterward a spokesman told Inner City Press, "you can't use that." If agreed in advance, Inner City Press always respects that.

  But in this case, the comments were already broadcast on UN Television. And this comes shortly after hoopla about Switzerland's ten years in the UN -- click here for decade's review by Inner City Press. For the record, Inner City Press has had praise for the Swiss Mission to the UN and related community. But answers to questions on UN TV are for use.

  Minutes later the foreign minister of Morocco Saad-Eddine El Othmani appeared. Inner City Press has previously filmed Q&A with him, and this time ran to the stakeout as for Switzerland's president.

 But this time a signal was given and the media availability abruptly called to a close. There are questions. Hey, it might have been a softball about Morocco's position on a UN envoy for the Sahel. Maybe --watch this site.

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