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Kim Sook Says M23 & Addis Can Be Linked, Must Digest Sudan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 4 -- Much of the UN Security Council's work is behind closed doors in consultations, and it often falls to the month's Council president to summarize what is discussed.

  February's president Kim Sook of South Korea held his press conference on the Program of Work on Monday, and Inner City Press asked him about consultations this week on the Sudans and Eastern Congo. Video here, from Minute 15:30.

  On Sudan sanctions, Inner City Press asked if any progress has been made in getting the Expert Schbley into the country. Sudan says he is "blacklisted" for work "against Sudan" while working on the Somalia and Eritrea sanctions committee.

  Kim Sook replied that the session will be a briefing, with some weeks then to digest it. The Group of Experts is slated, on the Program of Work, to have its mandate renewed on February 13. We'll be there.

   Inner City Press asked about the relation between the M23 talks in Kampala and the failed talks on "peace enforcement" in Addis Ababa, which an involved diplomat told Inner City Press was "blown up" not only by the UN's failure to consult, but also by its anonymous briefing to embedded journalists saying it would be signed.

   Kim Sook replied that while the two issues can technically be addressed separately or "microscopically," on the ground things are mixed. He said that either topic or both can be brought up by any Council member.

  The two briefers will be Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff and Personal Envoy Susana Malcorra and head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous.

  Malcorra is hard-driving, for example defending the redaction of information from Charles Petrie's report to Ban about Sri Lanka.

  Ladsous on the other hand refuses to answer Press questions, apparently insulted that he was asked about the relation between his long service of the French foreign ministry and his new Peacekeeping position.

  Many in the UN system get asked similar questions -- for example the American Jeffrey Feltman when he came to the UN from the US State Department, and also Ban Ki-moon on issues impacting the Korean peninsula.

  But both of these officials have answered that question, however tersely, while continuing to answer other questions about their work.

  Ladsous is different - he simply refuses to answer other question, even going so far as to order his spokesman to seize the UNTV stakeout microphone to avoid a question from Inner City Press about 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, video here.

   Kim Sook will be at that stakeout a lot this coming month.

  On Monday, Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access thanked him in advance for his stakeouts, expressing a hope that these occur after most or all informal consultations, as was the case in January under the Presidency of Masood Khan of Pakistan. We'll see.

  The first, "traditional" question (video here, from Minute 7:55) was about North Korea, with the questioner predicting a nuclear test "in the next few days if not sooner." What could be sooner than that? We'll cover it, as we did the January resolution, here. Watch this site.

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