Venezuela Warms to Dominican Republic

By JORGE RUEDA
The Associated Press
Monday, October 30, 2006; 11:38 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela said Monday it might consider the Dominican Republic as a compromise candidate for a U.N. Security Council seat, after having deadlocked with U.S.-backed Guatemala in repeated votes for the spot.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel's conciliatory remarks came as Guatemala said it would also consider backing a third country as diplomats seek a solution to the impasse that has failed to produce a winner after 41 rounds of voting.

Rangel said that while Venezuela has offered close ally Bolivia as an alternative, it also is open to others.

"The name of the Dominican Republic" has emerged as an alternative, Rangel said, adding that it is "a friendly country that has constantly expressed friendship with Venezuela."

The Dominican Republic enjoys solid relations with both Caracas and Washington _ which Chavez has accused of using coercive measures to block Venezuela from winning Latin America's open council seat.

The Security Council is made up of 15 members. Five are permanent _ Russia, France, Britain, China and the U.S. _ while ten regional members rotate through two-year terms.

In Guatemala, Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal said he was to meet with President Oscar Berger Monday to discuss the possibility of offering an alternative candidate.

"A third candidate is a possibility that we have resisted considering until today," Rosenthal told The Associated Press, without elaborating on which country Guatemala might back as an alternative.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said last week that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro called him proposing a Dominican candidacy and that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not dismiss the idea during a subsequent meeting.

Guatemala has led Venezuela in all of the votes but one _ which they tied _ but increasingly it has appeared that neither country can muster the needed two-thirds support in the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly.

Voting was scheduled to resume Tuesday.

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Associated Press writers Juan Carlos Llorca in Guatemala City and Jonathan M. Katz, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, contributed to this report.


© 2006 The Associated Press