Venezuela Seeks Security Council Seat

The Associated Press
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 5:30 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez vowed Thursday that Venezuela would win a seat on the U.N. Security Council despite U.S. opposition.

Washington officials have encouraged Latin American and Caribbean nations to vote instead for Guatemala's bid to hold the region's rotating seat on the 15-member Security Council.

"The United States walks the world day and night ... trying to terrorize others so that Venezuela won't get selected in October," Chavez said in a speech at the presidential palace. "We accept the challenge from the empire."

"The United States says Venezuela won't go to the Security Council. We say Venezuela will go," Chavez said.

The Security Council may soon have high-stakes decisions to make about nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. Chavez has sought to improve Venezuela's ties with both Iran and North Korea, complicating U.S. diplomatic efforts.

If Latin American and Caribbean nations cannot reach consensus on a regional representative, the U.N. General Assembly will select one in October, a vote Venezuela might win given the body's large number of nonaligned nations.

The Security Council has five permanent members with veto power _ the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France _ and 10 non-permanent members that serve two-year terms but have no power to veto resolutions. New council members will take their seats Jan. 1.

© 2006 The Associated Press