Those who spend much of their working week listening to speeches at the United Nations -- U.N. correspondents, for example -- might be forgiven for thinking there's not much difference between most of them.
But it's seldom you get as dramatic an illustration of this as happened on Feb. 11 when India's Foreign Minister began inadvertently reading out to the Security Council a speech written for another country's delegate without anyone, including himself, initially realizing anything was amiss.
The gaffe by minister S.M. Krishna occurred during a debate on the worthy but less than sensational topic of "the interdependence between security and development." This month's council president, Brazil, had organized the debate and invited as many foreign ministers as possible to take part.
The speech problem seems to have started when the speaker before Krishna, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado, decided to make off-the-cuff remarks to the council instead of his prepared text, which was instead circulated in written form to other participants. It was this that Krishna picked up and started to read when his turn came, thinking it was his own.
So general was the opening section that it could as well have come from India as Portugal, although it did seem a little odd when Krishna welcomed the fact that there are currently two Portuguese-speaking nations -- Portugal and Brazil -- on the Security Council. But hey, the Indian state of Goa was for centuries a Portuguese colony and Portuguese is still spoken there by some people.