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Old 10-16-2006, 01:53 AM
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Latin America pair battle for UN seat

Latam pair in battle for UN seat
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC UN correspondent

Venezuela will stand against Guatemala in a hotly contested election for a seat on the prestigious United Nations Security Council on Monday.

With Iran, Darfur and North Korea on the agenda of the Council in the coming months, victory means the ability to influence key decisions.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a sharp critic of the US, has been touring countries to rally support.

The US has been working behind the scenes to lobby support for Guatemala.

UN officials say there has not been an election like it since Cuba ran against Colombia in 1979 during the Cold War years.

Western diplomats fear that if Venezuela wins a temporary seat on the Security Council, then the country will use it as a platform to denounce the Americans at every turn and it will be impossible to get any work done.

Mexican scenario?

There is no love lost between Hugo Chavez and the US.

The Venezuelan president denounced George W Bush as "the devil" at the UN last month.

But it is uncertain whether that performance will help or hinder Venezuela's chances against Guatemala.

Guatemala, backed heavily by the US, says it will be a constructive member of the Council.

But the overt US lobbying for Guatemala could prove counter-productive too.

The decision lies with the 192 members of the UN General Assembly.

The winning country must get two-thirds of the votes cast in a secret ballot. Cuba-against-Colombia took three months of voting to resolve.

Mexico eventually won as the compromise candidate.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/10/16 02:52:36 GMT
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