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UK’s Hi Tech Miliband Is Asked of Somalia and Sri Lanka, by Twitter, Yes or No

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 20:09 No Comment]

By Matthew Russell Lee

It’s all the rage in diplomatic spin: UK foreign secretary David Miliband is taking questions by Twitter today, during his two day stay in Boston. The UK consulate there has been soliciting questions, saying they will be answered throughout the day.

At the UN in New York, Inner City Press has asked Miliband questions at the Security Council stakeout, several times receiving wordy answers the meaning of which was not entirely clear.

Perhaps the format of 140 characters — less with all the hash marks — in the questions and especially the answers will make Miliband’s meaning more clear. Here are two questions tweeted to the UK consulate as per their instructions on Wednesday morning by Inner City Press:

1) Has UK cut aid to WFP in #Somalia, and if so what is required for the aid to hungry Somalis to be resumed? #askfs

2) If #SriLanka refuses to investigate war crimes does UK think the UN should name a panel of inquiry as in Guinea? #askfs

The background to the first question is that while the UN and its Mark Bowden have publicly questioned the restrictions on aid by the U.S., which says funds are being diverted to Al Shabaab, the UK’s position is less clear. And with the UK’s John Holmes in charge of the UN’s humanitarian operations, some wonder if his office would point the finger at the UK.

  In the past week, Inner City Press has asked the UN’s spokesman Martin Nesirky, himself a Brit, for an update on restrictions on UN system operations and funding in Somalia, and to explain UN envoy Ould Abdallah’s call for the UN to return to Mogadishu when, apparently, he can’t. Still there have been no answers. At least on the first question, perhaps Miliband can answer.

Miliband and Sawers saunter pass stakeout, Twitter not shown

On the second question, Miliband’s then-UN Ambassador John Sawers, before he returned to London and spy-hood, told Inner City Press that the UK had "had the votes" to put Sri Lanka on the Security Council’s agenda during the blood bath on the beach stage of the conflict in the Spring of 2009, but chose not to, in the name of Council unity, perhaps on other issues.

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