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Posted on on August 31st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As Sudan Summarizes Bashir Meeting with Ban, UN Says It Was Only a Handshake

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 30 — Of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s time in Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement summit, the UN has provided descriptions of a range of meetings, with leaders ranging from Burkina Faso to Mali, Palestine to Iran, even North Korea’s Kim Yong Nam.

But no mention was made by the UN of Sudan’s president Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press went to the UN’s August 30 noon briefing in New York and asked if Ban had met with Bashir, and what had been discussed. Video here, from Minute 8:43.

Ban’s associate spokesman Farhan Haq replied that there had merely been a hand shake, not a meeting. “There was no meeting per se, no,” Haq said, just “a brief greeting and handshake between the Secretary General and President Bashir.”

But Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti provided this read out to his own state media: Bashir’s meeting with Ban “discussed ways to implement U.N. resolution 2046, the continued violations by South Sudan and the controversy that has arisen about the new map issued by the African mediator to operationalize a demilitarized zone between the two countries.”

Hard to discuss all that during a handshake. Inner City Press asked Haq, is this read out false? But Haq would only say, it was not a meeting, only a handshake.

Bashir has been indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court. Ban routinely calls for “accountability,” but here had this encounter with a person already indicted for genocide and war crimes.

The UN has a policy of only meeting “as necessary.” There are many questions about the policy — the UN flew indicted Ahmad Harun to Abyei, and now departed Darfur mission chief Ibrahim Gambari took photos with Bashir at a reception for the wedding of Chad’s Idriss Deby and the daughter of the founder of the Darfur janjawiid militia.

In connection with the General Assembly’s most recent resolution on the ICC, there was much discussion of no UN money being spent on such contacts with ICC indictees.

View: If the UN’s policy is to be credible, it should be applied publicly to the encounters the UN has with ICC indictees, especially when the encounter is by the Secretary General himself.

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