Latin American and Caribbean nations endorsed Panama for a seat on the U.N. Security Council Friday, after Guatemala and Venezuela withdrew to break a deadlock that dragged through 47 votes, officials said.

The 192-member General Assembly will vote on Panama's nomination for the seat on Tuesday and diplomats said they expect it to be approved by consensus as well.

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At the end of a meeting of the 34-nation Latin American and Caribbean Group, Argentina's U.N. Ambassador Cesar Mayoral said Panama had been officially selected as its candidate by consensus, without a vote.

"We are all happy, very happy. It was unanimous," Mayoral said.

The race for the council seat became highly political because the United States supported Guatemala over leftist Venezuela, which is led by the fiercely anti-American Chavez, who referred to Bush as "the devil" in his speech in September to the General Assembly ministerial meeting.

The foreign ministers of the two countries met two Wednesday and agreed to withdraw and support Panama.

Panama's U.N. Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias emerged saying: "We are motivated, commitred to the group, committed to the organization ... We have to wait for the General Assembly's decision."

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