Security Council Seat Impasse Continues

By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 4:48 PM

The three-week deadlock over a prized United Nations Security Council seat continued today as front-runners Guatemala and Venezuela failed to garner enough votes to become the council's second representative from the Caribbean and Latin America.

Voting was postponed early this afternoon until 3 p.m. tomorrow with no immediate explanation.

Later, Chile's U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Muñoz, told the Associated Press there is a "strong possibility" the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guatemala will meet tomorrow in New York, possibly to discuss a compromise candidate.

Guatemala had collected more votes than Venezuela in 44 of the first 45 rounds of voting held since Oct. 16. But the Central American nation has not achieved the two-thirds majority needed to secure a seat.

Negotiations to find a compromise candidate have not been successful as Guatemala, which has strong backing from the United States, and Venezuela, which is strongly opposed by the United States, have each refused to step aside. Last week, the Dominican Republic was mentioned as a possible alternative for the two-year term.

"Until they have a resolution, we will continue to vote," Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, spokeswoman for the general assembly president, said at a mid-day news conference, before the voting was postponed.

Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chávez, has billed the election as a battle between large countries, led by the United States, and smaller, developing nations. He has accused the United States of strong-arming smaller nations into opposing Venezuela's candidacy.

Venezuela was the early favorite to win one of the 10 temporary Security Council seats. But comments Chávez made in a speech before the General Assembly last month, in which he called President Bush "the devil," turned the tide against Venezuela, according to some diplomats.

Voting could continue indefinitely under United Nations rules. In the late 1970s, Mexico won a Security Council seat after 155 rounds of balloting.

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