Venezuela Refuses To Pull Out Of Race

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Venezuela has refused pleas from other Latin American and Caribbean nations to drop its pursuit of the open UN Security Council seat. Guatemala will not pull out either. Voting will continue tomorrow and Friday. The UN General Assembly will be paralyzed.

After 22 ballots on Monday and Tuesday, Venezuela lagged some 30 votes behind Guatemala 21 times. Neither nation reached the required two-thirds vote in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly for a two-year seat on the Security Council.

Voting will resume on Thursday and probably Friday unless General Assembly President Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain cuts off the repetitive balloting, which diplomats said she was unlikely to do.

Armed with petrodollars, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has tried to form an alliance in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to challenge Washington's interests. Failure to get into the U.N. Security Council would represent a setback for his ambitions for a bigger international profile.

"We don't enjoy paralyzing the work of the General Assembly. We don't enjoy divisions in the Latin American group," Guatemalan Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal said after a meeting of 32 Latin American and Caribbean nations.

But Rosenthal said since there was no agreement on a compromise or consensus candidate, "so why not pick the country that had the most votes in the General Assembly?"

Compromise candidates mentioned are Uruguay or Paraguay in South America. In Central America, the candidates would be Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, which are next in the lineup for council seats from the region.

Chavez will doubtless be trying to buy a few more votes, but it looks like this will go nowhere for the foreseeable future.

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