Alternate Candidates Considered for Vacant Security Council Seat

Latin American and Caribbean diplomats seeking to break an impasse over a hotly contested seat on the U.N. Security Council are considering alternate candidates from a list of countries, Guyana's foreign minister said Friday.

Neither Venezuela nor its U.S.-backed rival, Guatemala, has mustered the votes needed in the U.N. General Assembly to claim the seat, which opens Jan. 1. In more than 40 ballots since Oct. 16, Guatemala has led almost every round but fallen short of the required two-thirds majority.

"Guatemala's argument is that it needs six or seven more votes to get a majority but if that fails, we have to start looking at other candidates," Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally said in a telephone interview.

Insanally said diplomats were looking at countries that are bidding to win the region's second seat on the 15-member Security Council, currently held by Peru, in 2007. Argentina occupies the two-year seat being contested by Venezuela and Guatemala.

"We are now bringing forward names on next year's list like the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Uruguay," he said.

On Thursday, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez said Venezuela's foreign minister had called him to discuss the possibility of his country emerging as a consensus candidate to break the stalemate.

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