BEIRUT

Middle East

Jordan eager to secure U.N. Security Council seat

A portrait of Jordan's King Abdullah hangs on the wall as security and staff watch U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry participate in a joint news conference with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman, Jordan, November 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

AMMAN: Jordan is eager to assume a U.N. Security Council seat that Saudi Arabia had turned down in the wake of differences with the United States, the kingdom’s information minister said Monday.

The U.N. General Assembly, which voted on Oct. 17, to give Riyadh the seat traditionally reserved for an Arab nation on the council, must formally approve Jordan as a replacement. Since Jordan is almost certain to be the only candidate, its election is virtually assured.

Minister Mohammad Momani, who is also the government spokesman, said that Jordan was “consulting” with Gulf Arabs, U.S. and other governments to help support its bid ahead of another General Assembly vote whose date is yet to be determined.

He said the pro-U.S. kingdom was seeking Saudi approval for its bid. He said ties between the two monarchies were “traditionally strong” and that Riyadh “will not be upset” if Jordan received the seat.

Last week, Jordan dropped its bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, leaving Saudi Arabia a clear path in the now uncontested election Tuesday. Some activists accused the two countries of making a trade.

Another Jordanian official said the government had already received U.S. “blessing and support” during Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks with King Abdullah in Amman last Thursday. He insisted on anonymity because he was not allowed to make statements to the press.

“Receiving the seat is recognition of Jordan and the king’s standing as a moderate force in the region,” Momani told the Associated Press.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry stunned the diplomatic world with the announcement that it was rejecting the seat, less than 24 hours after it was elected. The Saudis issued a scathing attack on the Security Council’s failures to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Syria and to convene a conference on creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

The rejection appeared largely directed at the country’s longtime ally, the United States.

The oil giant and the world’s superpower are at odds over a number of Mideast issues, including how Washington has handled some of the region’s crises, particularly in Egypt and Syria. It also comes as ties between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis’ regional foe, appear to be improving somewhat.

Jordan, which shares a border with Israel, has been a key behind-the-scenes player in efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Amman also shares a border with Syria and has become a major destination for refugees fleeing the two-and-a-half year civil war, which – according to Syrian activists – has killed more than 120,000 people.

 

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