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Gaddafi's arrival at the UN

Nick Robinson | 15:24 UK time, Wednesday, 23 September 2009

UN HQ, New York: Colonel Gaddafi paused, smiled and waved as he took a step into the United Nations and into the embrace of what is rather misleadingly called "the international community".

"What is your message to Britain?" I shouted at the man I last saw in Tripoli in 2004 when Tony Blair travelled to Libya. His reply was wordless. He raised his hand in a Churchillian victory salute.

Colonel Gaddafi

It is a gesture unlikely to reassure Western diplomats who fear the capacity of the colonel to upstage and embarrass the other world leaders here. US TV networks are gripped by the sight of the tent which follows Gaddafi everywhere and has been erected in suburban New York on land owned by the billionaire Donald Trump.

The prime minister, in particular, fears that his efforts to get agreements on the economy, climate change, non-proliferation and world trade will be overshadowed by the moment he is forced to share a room and, perhaps, a handshake with the man who celebrated the return home of the Lockerbie bomber.

Now, he and many others in New York are waiting to see what Gaddafi will say and whether it will be as provocative as that welcome home and that victory salute.


  • Comment number 1.


    Interesting to see just how many more pointy fingers in the chest from the fickle finger of fate Mr Brown can endure. The Libyan ruler is hardly one given to tact and diplomacy...

    One can see a squirm-athon coming on.

    Cant wait. :-)

  • Comment number 2.

    What is it about New York ? Is it something in the water ? Not only are they letting clowns like Gaddafi and Ahmadinejad address the United Nations - last night they really excelled themselves by giving Gordon Brown a "Statemanship Award". Scary. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 3.

    Trump Tent - Seems appropriate as they are both somewhat in debt to the SNP ?

  • Comment number 4.

    Was al-Megrahi there? Given the obvious contempt Gaddafi has for us, and the glee with which he thumbs his nose in our direction, it wouldn't surprise me.

    That'll be a photocall worth seeing - Gordon Brown and Gaddafi. All smiles, no doubt. One confident leader taking great strides on the world stage, and one with fixed grin, hoping the headlines will be favourable.

    Guess which is which......

  • Comment number 5.

    Are you sure that is Colonel Gadaffi in that photo? It looks more like someone in Avid Merrion's Michael Jackson mask!

  • Comment number 6.

    What we see before us are the pigeons coming home to roost. This is the result of the failure of the international community to stand up to threats and blackmail. I'm only surprised Gaddafi's gesture wasn't a V-sign to Britain seeing as his every desire seems to become the basis of our foreign policy on Libya.

  • Comment number 7.

    Colonel Gadaffi is probably going to say that the Lockerbie bomber was 'technically' not breaking the law and should have been returned years ago.

    Can we just be clear, as the Baroness Scotland post has been closed; there is no such thing as a 'technical' breach of the law and as a QC, Baroness Scotland should know this and should now be removed from her post just for allowing this explanation to pass her lips.

    How can we possibly have an Attorney General who does not only disobey the laws she has enacted but then goes on to make ammendments to it on the hoof?

    Technicalities, indeed. This woman should be hounded from office form her double disregard for standards in public life.

    Talking of standards in public life; why is the BBC not picking up on the fact that there is no such thing as a 'technical' breach of the law; they are constantly dragging in consultants to add to news programs but on this matter they appear to either have a tin ear or to be complicit.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 8.

    So the International World Statesman of the Year is scarred of meeting Gaddafi.

    Gordon will thus be reaping the just deserts of his back-room dodgy deals and his subsequent avoidance of responsibility whilst he hid in his bunker.

    Gordon is the architect of his own misfortune and bad luck - which is considerable.

  • Comment number 9.

    Brown doesn't have to shake his hand or even share a room with the man. He is free to walk away, or indeed leave the room if he doesn't like the prospect. This won't happen sadly, because if he walks away , our allies from across the Atlantic and the channel will be quickly on the scene to shake hands with the man who has all these oil wells and may be keen to import the things he cannot manufacture. Brown's principles will not get in the way of his appearing to be some kind of international statesman , though the truth may be that he is anything but this and he will shake hands with the devil himself if he thinks it will get him a few votes.

  • Comment number 10.

    The theater of politics continues and the media chase the insignificant and make them seem important. It is hard to be optimistic when viewing a collection of world leaders,representatives of brutal regimes, petty dictators, religious fanatics, family businesses and frontmen for big business and world banking interest. Corruption seems to be the thing that binds them all. The return of the Lockerbie bomber was just another slap in the face to the average citizen in saying that the interest of the oil business should not be conditioned on such concepts as terrorism or other criminal activities. It is the United Nations not the United Peoples...the interests are different and should not be confused.

  • Comment number 11.

    "What is your message to Britain?" I shouted at the man I last saw in Tripoli in 2004 when Tony Blair travelled to Libya. His reply was wordless. He raised his hand in a Churchillian victory salute."

    If the picture is supposed to be the gesture in question, Nick, you clearly have no idea what Churchill's victory salute was.

    Gaddafi looks more like someone having a half-hearted attempt at a Vulcan salute and failing miserably.

    Ever thought, Nick, that perhaps Gaddafi didn't even hear you, or that if he had he probably couldn't be bothered to reply?

  • Comment number 12.

    Got a photo of that victory salute have you?
    This one looks like a wave of acknowledgement.

    Not that I doubt the BBBC in any way, but some of us Scots are getting a tad fed up with the exaggerated " America hates you stuff " being poured out of BBBC Scotland, particularly as many of us are in contact with ordinary Americans who appear to have missed boycotting us along with all the hate mail from Hillary and some FBI chappie.

    It would seem that the President was'nt all that fussed either, I'm sure he'll enjoy having the colourful Colonel as a guest!

  • Comment number 13.

    If GB had any conscience at all he would snub him.

  • Comment number 14.

    Found this buried in BBC Scotland:

    Lockerbie protests greet Gaddafi.

    On Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown repeated his criticism of the jubilant welcome Megrahi received on his return to Libya and indicated he would not be attending Colonel Gaddafi's first speech to the UN in 40 years.

    Once again Duff will be in his bunker.

    Roll On 2010

  • Comment number 15.

    All hail the new world order

  • Comment number 16.

    I've no idea why Brown would be embarassed to meet Gaddafi. After all he and his predecessor stitched up some cute business and political deals with him, didn't they?

    Like sending the SAS to train Libyan forces. And UK police to improve their oppos' understanding of how to handle disruption on the streets.

    He might think it offputting that, as a "global giant" (to quote Prescott), he couldn't even convince Gaddafi to keep the noise down when his mate was welcomed back home.

    And a bit hard to blame the Scottish Parliament. After all, they effectively run the day to day lives of all G. Brown's constituents... And Brown was a prime mover in creating the Holyrood environment in the first place.

    I keep forgetting which bits of Gordon's constituents' lives are actually impacted by anything he does to the rest of us, in the Westminster Parliament.

    Not a lot, though.

    Don't know why Gaddafi took a tent. He could just have asked the Trump to comb his hair differently, and there'd have been space for quite a meeting. (Miaow.)


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