Venezuela, Guatemala Seek Compromise

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It appears that the deadlock over the open Latin American seat on the UN Security Council may be reaching an end. But only if (T)Hugo Chavez stops trying to insert his Bolivian puppet in his place. Guatemala has refused that transparent bit of sleaze outright.

In the interim, the Venezuelan and Guatemalan foreign ministers meet in New York on Thursday to try to agree on a consensus candidate for the seat, one of two earmarked for Latin America on the 15-nation council.

"They accept in principal that they will withdraw their candidacies. But they are not set on a third country," Brazilian Ambassador Ronaldo Moto Sardenberg told reporters.

Guatemala and Venezuela are vying for a two-year seat on the Security Council, the most powerful U.N. body, that will be vacated by Argentina on December 31. Peru stays on the council until the end of 2007.

Guatemala is backed by the United States while Venezuela has painted the race as a battle against Washington and its U.N. ambassador, John Bolton.

"We will not go to the meeting with a knife in our hands," said Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas. "We are looking for a favorable agreement, a dignified one. We want to send a lesson to those countries who try to impose their will on others that this is not the way to go."

The new developments emerged during a meeting of the 35 Latin American and Caribbean U.N. members, whose divisions have held up work in the assembly.

"The pressure is on them now. They cannot possibly leave New York empty-handed," said Mexico's U.N. Ambassador Enrique Berruga.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his ally Bolivia would be a good compromise. "I and the people of Venezuela would feel worthily represented by comrade (President) Evo Morales and the people of Bolivia, who are a brother nation," Chavez told a women's meeting in Caracas.

But Guatemala's Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal has made clear that Bolivia was unacceptable. Other nations mentioned for the seat have included Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

They will have to settle on someone else or there will not be a deal.

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