The Bush administration is lobbying to prevent Venezuela from securing an open seat on the U.N. Security Council because of concern that its leading South American rival could confound plans to step up pressure on Iran.
Under United Nations rules, Latin American governments are entitled to pick a country from the region to fill the rotating seat that comes open next year. Venezuela has been campaigning for the post.
But the Bush administration is urging Latin American countries to vote for a U.S. ally, Guatemala, instead, warning that the populist government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cannot be trusted on crucial issues such as Iran's nuclear program, given its "disruptive and irresponsible behavior" in international organizations.
Behind the scenes, U.S. officials have been applying pressure, even to close allies, Latin American diplomats say. For example, Washington has agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Chile, but are warning that Chilean pilots will not be trained to fly them if the government supports Venezuela's Security Council bid, the diplomats said...
..."No one wants to choose between the United States and Venezuela, but that's what it's come down to," said a diplomat from one Western Hemisphere country, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The Americans "have made it quite clear this is a top priority."
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