Sunday, September 30, 2007

'The UN Yoyos Are In Town'

'The UN yoyos are in town' growled my taxi driver in a New Yawk accent so thick it almost cut through the traffic.

Sarkozy (photo) makes his entrance Almost , but not quite, because the traffic was snarled by convoys of UN delegations rolling through midtown like a river of steel heading towards the UN HQ.

You can get a good idea of the relative importance of the delegation from the number of vehicles in the convoy.

At the top, you've guessed it, the President of the United States.

As he flowed down 46th street I counted 34 vehicles in the convoy and a helicopter above it. No-one else comes close to either the number of cars or indeed to the President.

The SUVs full of men with machine guns see to that.

I have yet to see the Micronesian delegation whiz past, but one suspects the number of cars involved when they move is somewhere between one and three. And no machine guns. Or helicopters.

Once the delegates from the 140 or so nations here are on foot assembled western hacks play 'who's that world leader?'

A delegation, whether it comprises four people or 40, moves as one.

Somewhere in the middle, slightly towards the front, and with a security guard within arm's reach is the World Leader.

But who is he/she? And more importantly, are they worth interviewing?

If you are chasing a Zimbabwe angle and want African reaction, the sight of an African delegation approaching dressed in beautifully coloured flowing robes sends the assembled hacks (hacks are always assembled) into paroxysms.

"Who's that?" "Is that the Togans ?" "No, I think it's the Rwandans." "Someone ask them." "You ask them!" "No, you ask them!"

Javier Solana of the EUIt is far too embarrassing to shout "Are you from Togo?" and so the delegation passes leaving in its wake murmurings of "I think it was the Sierra Leone lot", "Well, I think they were from Benin".

The same ritual occurs with dull-suited Europeans who may or may not be from Finland or Estonia. Or Latvia.

Until finally you spot Nicolas Sarkozy and the cry goes up "Messier Sarkozy " to which he flicks a jaunty wave and carries on walking because a French President does not stop and talk to assembled hacks on pavements.

At last, Javier Solona from the EU passes.

A true gentlemen and a serious player who has impeccable timing as most of my colleagues have gone for lunch and so miss him.

He comes over, gives Sky an exclusive on Burma and EU sanctions.

Within minutes it is on Sky, then quoted on the wire agencies and seen around the world. Diplomacy conducted, news made, job done.

We go back to country spotting - but I never do see the Yoyos, isn't that near Togo?

Trend" news agency - 'The UN Yoyos Are In Town