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Saudi Arabia declines UN Security Council seat

Updated October 18, 2013
— File photo
— File photo

UNITED NATIONS: Saudi Arabia on Friday declined a seat on the UN Security Council, citing “double standards” that made it hard for the world body to end conflict and wars.

This was the first time the Arab country had won such a seat in a new show of determination to make its voice heard, joining Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria in taking places on the key body.

All five countries stood unopposed in an election by the 193 member UN General Assembly. They would replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo on the 15-nation council on January 1.

The country was due to replace Pakistan on the Security Council.

Saudi Arabia, despite its oil power and standing in the Muslim world, has never competed for a place on the United Nations' most powerful body which has a key role pronouncing on conflicts such as that in Syria.

“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism, and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” said the foreign ministry in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

It said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced, but did not specify what reforms it wanted.

The Security Council has been divided on how to handle the civil war in Syria, with Western powers pushing for stronger sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad and Russia vetoing resolutions to that end.

The conservative kingdom has several times expressed alarm at what it considers international inaction over Syria. It has been a major backer of the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudi government also remains a fierce critic of Israel.

Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi had earlier told reporters that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the Syrian people's struggle for “freedom and prosperity and unity.”

Five countries have permanent seats on the Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. The other 10 seats are awarded for two year periods by the General Assembly, which holds a vote every year for five of the seats.