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Anne Penketh

Anne Penketh trailed around the "golden triangle" of Moscow, Paris and New York as a foreign correspondent for the news agency Agence France-Presse before joining The Independent in 1999. As diplomatic editor she has written on conflicts and crises from North Korea to Iran, and tries to separate the spin cycle from the news cycle by winkling out the diplomatic stories behind the breaking news. In Diplomatic Licence she shares some of the diplomatic whispers from the corridors of power (and the not so powerful corridors).

It's grim in Gaza

Posted by Anne Penketh
  • Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 06:06 pm

I met Karen AbuZayd, the head of UNRWA, when she was sitting in the basement dining room of a trendy London hotel beside a mirror on which an artist has written in gold letters: "this is shit."It is understandable that Mrs AbuZayd, whose UN agency looks after the welfare of Palestinian refugees, did not wish to be photographed in front of the art work. But the message on the mirror aptly sums up the dramatic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as she was the first to point out.

The Israeli blockade has caused an ever worsening crisis for the 1.5m Palestinians in Gaza since it was imposed after the election of Hamas in January 2006. Israel has refused to lift the blockade for as long as the Palestinian militants’ rockets come over the fence.

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Pakistan's Obama?

Posted by Anne Penketh
  • Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 03:22 am
Imran Khan was talking to me about his platform for political change in Pakistan, in an interview at the guest house of his former mother-in-law, Lady Annabel Goldsmith, which he uses while in London. He was banging on about change so much that I interrupted to joke: "Where is Pakistan's Obama?"

The 55-year old politician met this with a disapproving glance, before hastening to add: "I was there before Obama trying to do the same thing." Ouch.

Imran Khan is in London to talk to the International Institute of Strategic Studies about the "civil war" in Pakistan and his campaign for democracy. His own strategy consists of appealing to the younger generation of Pakistanis, both at home and abroad, to break out of the feudal mould of politics-as-usual. He believes that Pakistanis who have studied or worked in the UK or Middle East could shake things up if they get involved in politics back home. It could prove controversial, but he says that there are 6 million Pakistanis outside the country with the skills to make a difference. He'll be talking to students at University College London next Saturday.


DSK and the case of the French wives

Posted by Anne Penketh
  • Monday, 20 October 2008 at 12:49 pm
There's something that bothers me about the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka DSK), the French head of the International Monetary Fund, who is being investigated over whether a romantic affair may have led to him abusing his power. This raises the bigger issue of the possible conflict of interest involving the marriages of French politicians and journalists. DSK's wife, Anne Sinclair, is one of France's best-known journalists, and she has been writing a weekly column from Washington on life in the US.

Did she, however, mention her husband's affair in her article for the Journal du Dimanche, which ran three pages on the IMF scandal today? No, she did not. She did, however, mention it in her blog, in which she says that "this one night stand is now behind us." Should she not have been more up front about her relationship with DSK in the pages of the newspaper? Or should she be writing at all from Washington for risk of compromising her journalistic integrity while married to the head of the IMF? Surely there is a case to answer.
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UN votes Obama

Posted by Anne Penketh
  • Monday, 29 September 2008 at 05:27 pm
The UN was abuzz with excitement last week as the US elections came to the East River with Sarah Palin www.johnmccain.com/taking advantage of the General Assembly to brush up on her foreign policy credentials by meeting as many world leaders as possible. But the scuttlebutt in the UN canteen involved a recent off-the-record briefing by the www.un.org/sg/ UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon who is reported to have told a small group of journalists that an Obama victory would be "good for us", meaning for the UN. That is, of course, stating the blindingly obvious as the occupants of the 38 floors of the UN building are about as Democratic as they come, and successive Republican administrations have never made any secret of their hostility towards the United Nations. But if you are the UN chief - and your paymaster is the US administration - you need to be careful about what you say, even off the record. My source reckoned that it is more than likely that Mr Ban's comments have already reached the ears of the American ambassador.

Sep. 25th, 2008

Posted by Anne Penketh
  • 12:40 PM
This is the journal of Anne Penketh, a reporter with the The Independent.
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