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Zarif Asks Brahimi If Comes to Iran Next, Ishallah's Reply, Censors Jarba Games

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 2 -- "I came to say goodbye," envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday. "I am leaving."

  "Leaving to our place?" Zarif asked. "Are you coming to Iran next?"

  "Inshallah," Brahimi said. "Insha'Allah."

  UN General Debate week was over, but at 4:10 pm on Wednesday Iran's Zarif met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his team, on the UN's 38th floor.

  Inner City Press went up for the photo-op, along with other camera-people: four Iranian and one Lebanese, for the station Al Mayadeen. No one else, apparently, cared. But up on the 38th floor, even before the meeting, envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi came into view. A UN Security guard ordered, with authority unclear, not to film Brahimi.

  Also present on the UN side were Jeffrey Feltman, formerly the US State Department's Middle East chief, and Angela Kane, the head of UN Disarmament. There was Ivan Simonovic on human rights, and Valerie Amos on humanitarian affairs.

  There was Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, seen earlier in the day at the press conference on migration, graciously making sure that the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info got a question, about the death of workers from Nepal in Qatar.

But it was Zarif who appeared most collected and in charge at the beginning of the meeting with the UN. He said in passing this was his third time up here, "once with the President," Hassan Rouhani. As he signed Ban Ki-moon's book he said, I'll give you one more signature. Video of that, on Inner City Press' YouTube channel, here.

Ban's just prior meeting had been with Israeli politician Zehava Galon, Member of Knesset and Chairperson of the Meretz Party in Israel.

  After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Tuesday speech -- for which Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky postponed the noon briefing -- and Iran's right of reply, which Nesirky talked over, it was reported as newsworthy that Iran called Israel, Israel. But that as subsequently corrected, that had been done before. What's in a word?

  While the four Iranian and one Lebanese camera-people and Inner City Press were up covering Zarif, Brahimi and Ban, down on the third floor of the UN there was a 4 pm party for the "end of the GA," in a space which only in July hosted a faux UN briefing by Saudi-sponsored Syria rebel boss Ahmad al Jarba.

  Those are the politics of those running that club or alliance, the UN Correspondents' Association, UNCA, or UN's Censorship Alliance, to which Ban's UN gives a lock clubhouse for faux UN briefings -- the backdoor way into the UN, it's become known.

Nesirky when Pressed to explain why he postponed for Israel but spoke over Iran's reply replied, as transcribed by the UN:

Question: I understand there was a lot of interest in the speech of the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. [Benjamin] Netanyahu, and there have been other times where I’d wished the briefing had been postponed to hear, for example, the Foreign Minister of Rwanda. But, I just want to know what the policy is, because every day in this last seven days at noon there’s been somebody speaking. What’s the policy on when the briefing is postponed for a particular Head of State? Currently, Iran is speaking, giving its response to what Mr. Netanyahu said, and we’re, obviously, having the briefing at the same time. So, I just wanted to sort of ask you that, in an open-ended fashion, what is the policy?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I think journalists who are covering hard news do understand why I would not think it advisable to go head-to-head with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He’s the Head of Government, not the Head of State, by the way; that’s Shimon Peres. And, that’s the first thing. The second is that there is no hard and fast rule. It’s simply to try to help journalists, like yourself, to be able to cover things to the best of their ability. The fact of the matter is that the journalists in this building, for the most part, were focused today very much on what Prime Minister Netanyahu would have to say, and he was the last speaker in the general debate; and therefore, I took the decision that it would be better not to go head to head with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but to listen to what he had to say and to allow the journalists who are covering him to be able to listen, too, and not be… have their attention divided by wondering whether there was anything going to be said at the briefing, for example, about the chemical weapons team that went in today. As for the rights of reply, that’s a separate matter. That is a procedural matter. This was a speech that was the last one in the general debate.

Inner City Press:: And I really appreciate that. My only question would just be… since you’re using this term “hard news” and that this is harder news than other Heads of State or Heads of Government. Isn’t a definition of “hard news” hearing what the other side has to say, which is taking place right now?

Spokesperson: I think you understand the distinction, Matthew, and I think that most journalists in this room and watching this would understand the distinction

Inner City Press: Did you take a poll? Is that based on any polling data?

Spokesperson Nesirky: It’s based on my experience, for a quarter of a century — far longer than you, Matthew — as a journalist. Thanks very much. Good afternoon, thank you.

And that is another reason for the founding of the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info. Watch this site.


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