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EGYPT: Officials upset by U.N. secretary-general's remarks

February 4, 2011 | 11:04 am

Egypt has told the United Nations it is unhappy with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's public criticism of the Egyptian government and his calls for change, according to a spokeswoman for Egypt's U.N. mission.

Ban this week urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government to take “bold measures” to address protesters' concerns and urged Mubarak's government to view the demonstrations “as an opportunity to engage in addressing the legitimate concerns of the people.”

Egypt's mission to the United Nations in New York expressed its annoyance with Ban's remarks, Reuters reported Friday.

“Egypt has verbally complained about the characterization of the SG [secretary-general] of the situation in Egypt,” Nihal Saad, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian mission, said in an e-mail to Reuters.

“The remarks made by the SG, whether in Davos or London, were viewed as raising the bar above all the other remarks that have been made by other member states, including those who criticized Egypt,” she added.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed to Reuters that U.N. officials had discussed Ban's remarks with the Egyptian mission and added: "We stand by what he has been saying."

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told Reuters he was also “surprised” by Ban's statements about Egypt.

“The secretariat is to serve the sovereign states and has to work according to a certain mandate, and that mandate does not include giving advice to political leaders,” Churkin said.

Churkin indicated that he was not bothered by Ban's comments on the need to refrain from violence or Ban's criticism of the attacks on journalists.

“But there are some extremely delicate domestic political matters, and I think that that should be left for the sovereign states to deal with,” Churkin told Reuters.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Anti-government protestors look from behind makeshift barricades in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The Egyptian military guarded thousands of protesters pouring into Cairo's main square on Friday in an attempt to drive out President Hosni Mubarak after a week and half of pro-democracy demonstrations. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press