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AP Blog: U.N. Reporters Get Errant Fax

Saturday, October 07, 2006

U.N. Chief Correspondent Edith M. Lederer, who has covered the world diplomatic beat since September 1998, writes a periodic blog about life behind the scenes at U.N. headquarters in New York.

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Friday, Oct. 6, 2006, 8 p.m. local

UNITED NATIONS

Whoops!

Japan's U.N. mission meant to send the fax to ambassadors from Asian countries at the United Nations, inviting them to a meeting on Wednesday with South Korea's Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-Moon, who is virtually certain to become the next U.N. secretary-general.

But it seems someone at the mission pressed the wrong button, and the fax went to many members of the U.N. press corps instead.

The Security Council is expected to vote Monday to General Assembly approval of Ban to succeed Kofi Annan, whose second five-year term expires on Dec. 31. The six other potential candidates have all dropped out, so Ban's election is virtually assured.

The errant fax revealed that Ban is returning to New York to meet with the Asian ambassadors, and most likely other regional groups as well, before the General Assembly vote later this month.

(Story continues below)

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Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, as head of the Asian Group for the month of October, had been asked to arrange a meeting with Ban by South Korea's U.N. Ambassador Choi Young-jin.

Not too long after reporters received copies of the letters from Choi and Oshima _ and along with it the fax numbers for all the countries in the Asian Group _ another fax arrived from Japan's U.N. Mission.

"The Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations regrets that a fax intended for the member states of the Asian Group regarding the Asian Group meeting was sent to other parties in error. This is a closed meeting; press coverage is not permitted,"the fax said.

"The Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations requests that those parties who received the fax in error kindly disregard it."

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Friday, Oct. 6, 2006, 3 p.m. local

UNITED NATIONS

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush had his granddaughter, the U.S. ambassador, and the head of the U.N. children's agency in the audience when he held a news conference to mark the first anniversary of last year's South Asian earthquake.

But Bush said he wished another former president was on the podium as well _ Bill Clinton.

There were a lot of raised eyebrows a couple of years ago when Bush, a Republican, teamed up with Clinton, the Democrat who defeated him, to raise money in the United States to help survivors of the December 26, 2004 tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 11 countries from Indonesia across the Indian Ocean to Africa.

The ex-presidents were asked to take on the job by the current president, Bush's son, George W. Bush. And to the surprise of many the political odd couple became close friends.

So when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, Bush and Clinton teamed up again at the current president's request to raise money in the U.S. for the hundreds of thousands of people trying to rebuild their lives.

The United Nations got into the act in February 2005 when Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Clinton to be the U.N. point man for tsunami reconstruction, saying no one could better ensure that the world doesn't forget the needs of the devastated countries.

In December 2005, Annan convinced Bush to take on a similar job and help sustain global support for victims of the South Asia earthquake. That meant he joined Clinton as a U.N. envoy.

At Friday's press conference, responding to a question, Bush said,"this is not a Bush-Clinton program like the tsunami or like Katrina."

"I want to say, paranthetically, I've enjoyed working with him very much on the two projects where we are involved _ and in a sense, I wish he were involved in this one because he's one energetic dude, I'll tell you!,"Bush said.

Bush is 82 years old while Clinton just turned 60 and he likes to joke about the difference.

At the start of the news conference, Bush noted that U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, and his granddaughter Lauren Bush had come to listen.

Lauren, a Princeton student and model, has also done some work with one of the U.N. agencies though Bush couldn't remember which one. From the audience came the answer: the World Food Program.

Bush praised her work, saying she is"dedicated to helping others and makes us very, very proud."

After his opening remarks, the president of the U.N. Correspondents Association, Masood Haider, then asked the first question, saying:"Allow me to tell you that you look rather well for your age..."

Bush interrupted, a smile crossing his face."For an old guy?,"he cracked.

Everyone in the room burst into raucous laughter.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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