|PREDERGAST'S MIDEAST MISSION.
15 January 2005
The discreet Under Secretary General for Political Affairs may have been preparing for his next assignment --
discreetly. Rumoured to be taking over the post previously occupied by Terje Roed Larsen, Sir Kieran was
not saying anything and -- when asked -- the Secretary General evaded an answer without denying it,
saying that the name was listed "amongst others."
There were indications that the senior British official was preparing for his Mideast
assignment. A mission was sent several months ago to the region from his department to review the
role and scope of the current and future office. Headed by Geir Pederson, head of Asia and Pacific
division, the team proposed, among other things, the addition of another Assistant Secretary General
post. Thus the Under Secretary General heading the Mideast mission would have two ASGs, one already in
Beirut. The other would be based between Israel and
the Palestinian Authority. With the departure of Larsen, Pederson, who is also Norwegian, could hope
for that post, which he himself proposed.
Sir Kieran had served as U.K. Ambassador to Israel before joining the U.N. He also served in Turkey
which is emerging as an active mediator in the region. Naturally, he is familiar with the issues --
Security Council Resolution 242 was prepared by Britain. (Sir Kieran may mention that, as a young
diplomat, he helped in the drafting.) It is also noted that Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed a
special conference in London and has been active recently in exploring ways to move a peaceful
settlement forward. A noted British diplomat under U.N. flag may be able to establish bridges and gain inner access to
all key players. With his discreet approach, and a special sense of humour, he may even
make some headway where the outgoing envoy failed.
The latest word, however, is that such an assignment has been blocked by some influential circles and
that Sir Kieran is likely to go, but not to the Mideast.