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Saudi officially rejects UN Security Council seat

Nov. 13, 2013 10:05 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 13, 2013 10:05 A.M.)
NEW YORK (AFP) -- Saudi Arabia officially told the United Nations on Tuesday that it would not be taking up a UN Security Council seat -- opening the way for Jordan to take the place.

Saudi envoy to the United Nations Abdullah al-Mouallimi wrote to UN leader Ban Ki-moon to inform him of the move and reaffirm a Saudi protest over the way the council has acted over the Syria conflict.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed that a letter had been received about the Security Council seat, but did not give details.

"The matter is now one for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Security Council and the member states to consider," he said.

Saudi Arabia won a seat on the Security Council for the first time last month. But the following day the Saudi government stunned leading powers by announcing it would not take up the place.

Western diplomats now say Jordan will take up the seat. Jordanian officials have confirmed that the move is being discussed but not confirmed the country will take up the seat.

Jordan did however withdraw its candidacy from the race for a UN Human Rights Council position so that Saudi Arabia was guaranteed a place in an election held on Tuesday.

Jordan is believed to be wary of taking up the seat because of its sensitive position on the frontier of the Syrian civil war.

A new UN General Assembly election will have to be held to allow a new country to take up the two year seat that Saudi Arabia should have started on January 1.

"I wish to inform you that the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to advise you that Saudi Arabia will regrettably not be in position to assume its seat in the Security Council to which it was elected,” Mouallimi wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Attached to the letter was a copy of a Saudi foreign ministry statement issued last month which slammed the Security Council's failure to act over the 32-month-old Syria war.

The Saudi government said the 15-country's deadlock over Syria was "irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities."

The government also complained about lack of progress in efforts to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Saudi ambassador has since stepped up calls for reform of the Security Council.

Diplomats and analysts say the Saudi protest was aimed at US policy over Syria and the Middle East as much as toward the Security Council.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Saudi monarch King Abdullah last week in a bid to patch up strains in relations.
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