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Bolton On Latin American UNSC Seat Selection, Iran

Briefing on the Selection of the Latin American Seat for the United Nations Security Council, Iran, and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks outside the General Assembly
New York City
October 19, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: I'd just say briefly we've had seven more ballots this morning, seven more defeats for Venezuela. Really the decent thing to do here is for the losing candidate to withdraw and see if the Latin American Group can coalesce around Guatemala or something else. I don't know what to say. I can't speak any louder, as you can tell. But what I said was seven more votes, seven more defeats for Venezuela.

And I think the will of the General Assembly is quite clear. Guatemala's been up by about 30 votes consistently. They're very close to a two-thirds majority. And the honorable thing here would be for the candidate that's now lost 28 out of 29 votes to withdraw. But if Venezuela insists on putting everybody through all this, vote after vote after vote, we'll be here and we'll continue to support Guatemala.

Reporter: Ambassador, Hugo Chavez says that he will not relent, that he will continue to press (inaudible).

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think -- I think this is the kind of behavior that we worried about on the Security Council. It serves no purpose. It's purely obstructionist. It's not constructive.

Reporter: Ambassador, there's a couple of proposals, I guess, I'm hearing about. They include -- one is to basically suspend things perhaps until next Wednesday because of the holidays, just to give people time to reflect. And also, rather than these continual ballots, perhaps only have one in the morning and one in the afternoon. What do -- what do you feel about those possibilities?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, there are a lot of proposals out there procedurally. We can live with whatever's acceptable to Guatemala.

Reporter: Could you see the president of the General Assembly play some role here? I mean, we had Jan Eliasson sort of using his stature to break deadlocks, things like that. Is this a time when maybe she could come in and at least meet with GRULAC and talk about how to get out of this deadlock?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I'm not -- I'm not sure what deadlocks he broke, and I think this is fundamentally a question for the GRULAC countries.

Reporter: The commander of the UNIFIL is just ending a briefing now.

Ambassador Bolton: Does this have to do with Guatemala versus Venezuela?

Reporter: And in the case -- and in the future UNIFIL might shoot at the Israeli airplanes who violate Lebanese airspace if there is a change in the rules in the Security Council. Can you contemplate such changes in the rules which would allow UNIFIL to shoot --

Ambassador Bolton: There were too many "ifs" in that question to speculate on an answer.

Reporter: There was a Costa Rica vote in this last vote -- in this last ballot. There have been some other things. Are you aware of any diplomatic initiatives that might break this logjam?

Ambassador Bolton: These are support votes.

Reporter: Ambassador, can you characterize the state of lobbying at the moment by the various parties?

Ambassador Bolton: The state of --

Reporter: Of lobbying, how it works. There's been such a lot of (inaudible) the U.S. has been making, similarly the pressure that Venezuela is bringing to bear. Can you give us a sense of how this works at the moment?

Ambassador Bolton: I think most of the delegations are following instructions from capitals. I think there are a few that are not, but I think this is basically the permanent representatives are carrying out their instructions from capitals, and I think that's where most of the real lobbying is taking place.

Reporter: And for example, there's one report that President Bush called the Indian prime minister to ask for his support in this. Is that correct? Have there been calls between -- senior U.S., including the president obviously, and his counterparts on this issue?

Ambassador Bolton: I think we have, throughout this process, made our position known in a low-key way. It's not normally something we get involved in at all. This is normally a matter for the regional group to work out a consensus.

It is certainly true that Guatemala's been seeking this position for a long time. We had zero involvement -- zero -- until Venezuela declared its candidacy. And our concern from the outset has been the obstructionist and unhelpful behavior of Venezuela and the threat that it posed to orderly decision-making in the Security Council. And that's been the view that we've expressed. I think Guatemala has a very strong substantive case for non-permanent membership. You know, you'll recall, all of you wrote so often -- in the secretary-general's race you wrote over and over again about the principle of rotation. You all remember that. Venezuela has been a member of the Security Council four times. Guatemala is a founding member of the UN, has never been a member of the Security Council.

So for all of you who are devotees of the principle of rotation, I'm sure you're going to include that in your stories. Correct? I'll just take one more here and then --

Reporter: Ambassador, is this stalemate negatively affecting the other work of the General Assembly and the mood and --

Ambassador Bolton: I don't think it's a stalemate. I think Venezuela has lost and we're still trying to find out under what circumstances Guatemala can win.

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: I think there'd be advantages in giving the Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Gert Rosenthal -- who is very well known here, very well respected -- a chance to talk to other delegations. If that's something that Guatemala would find useful, I think we could support it.

Ambassador Bolton: On Iran. This is the "Iran Caucus" over here.

Reporter: It's been 50 days now since October 31st (sic), or almost. Where are --

Ambassador Bolton: August 31st.

Reporter: August 31st, sorry. Where are you in terms of getting a resolution together that would be ready for the Russians and the Chinese (inaudible)? How close are you? What elements would that be?

Ambassador Bolton: We're consulting on it, and I expect within a day or two we'll have something to circulate more broadly in the Council.

Reporter: And the elements? Key elements?

Ambassador Bolton: You'll have to wait, and when you get your copy from whatever member of the Council gives it to you, then you can see. Okay. Thanks a lot. See you later.

Released on October 19, 2006


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