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UN Debate Ends With Whimper, Kashmir to Nagorno-Karabakh, Circus Leaving

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1 -- The week-long UN General Debate, which began with Barack Obama as second speaker Tuesday twice citing KFC but not once Sudan, Haiti or Congo, ended with a whimper and not a bang on Monday night.

  Monday in the morning Syria and Sri Lanka spoke of double standards. By the afternoon it was Palau talking of sharks, Portugal saying we are "impotent witnesses" to what Canada's John Baird called the "crimson tide" in Syria.

  In the UN Media Center, which had been standing room only during Obama's speech, a dozen scribes remained. But the UN couldn't wait to the end to throw them out. "After Venezuela we're shutting it down and calling security," Inner City Press was told. And so it closed, even as Dominica gave its speech.

Over in a photo booth above the GA Hall, Inner City Press watched the final 10 rights of reply play out. Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative said Jammu and Kashmir are not an integral part of India; the Indian political coordinator insisted that they were.

Azerbaijan's Permanent Representative said Armenia had abused its right to speak, and left the hall before the Armenian duo's second reply.

Eritrea downplayed its 2008 skirmish with Djibouti; Iran defended its right to peaceful nuclear use. In the end, new President of the General Assembly Vuk Jeremic of Serbia offered up a summary, smiling as he said how many spoke of territorial integrity. One thought of Kosovo, which does not have a seat. Nor does Somaliland, nor the apparently soon to be re-conquered Azawad in northern Mali.

Much of the week's action took place outside the UN, for example at the Waldorf Astoria where the Friends of Syria met on Friday. In the side hallways of the lobby, European and African diplomats talked in a hush about the M23 rebels, then went their separate ways. Deals were cut, then diplomats cut out. Only the bitterness remained, the backwash of conflicts, the rights of reply. But it will continue. Watch this site.

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