Saudi Arabia turns down U.N. Security Council membership

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Saudi Arabia said on Friday it refuses to accept its rotating U.N. Security Council seat, saying the council is incapable of ending wars and resolving conflicts.

“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,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia won, for the first time, a seat as a non-permanent member in the U.N. Security Council.

But the kingdom later said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry blamed the Council for failing in its duties toward Syria. It said this has allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to commit crimes against Syrian people without facing any punishment.

The ministry also said the Council has been unable to resolve the decades-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. It also criticized it for failing to transform the Middle East into a region free of mass destruction weapons.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has not yet officially notified the United Nations of its decision to reject its Security Council place, U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Friday.

Ban told reporters it would be for U.N. member states to decide how to replace Saudi Arabia, but said “I would like to caution you that I have received no official notification” from the Saudi government, Agence France-Presse reported.

Diplomats said it could be possible to persuade the Saudi government to reverse the decision announced in an outspoken foreign ministry statement.

While Russia criticized the Saudis’ “strange” decision, the kingdom got a more understanding reaction from western nations.

“We have an ongoing dialogue on the subject of Syria with Saudi Arabia. We share its frustration after the Security Council’s paralysis,” AFP quoted French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal as saying.

Nadal noted that France is proposing reforms to the council’s veto system.

France in September proposed that the five permanent Security Council members no longer have the power to veto resolutions when they involve “mass crimes.”

Saudi Arabia was elected but rejected membership “until it is reformed and given the means to accomplish its duties.”

Meanwhile, Russia on Friday sharply criticized Saudi Arabia for rejecting the U.N. membership, slamming the kingdoms “strange” argument that the body had failed over the Syria conflict.

“We are surprised by Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The kingdom’s arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the U.N. Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange,” it added.

Meanwhile, if Saudi Arabia maintains its stance, the Asia-Pacific group of nations would have to propose a new candidate for the U.N. General Assembly to vote on.

“These things have to be decided by the group, and others, and I don’t know whether or not Saudi Arabia can be persuaded to assume its position,” said Pakistan’s U.N. envoy Masood Khan. Saudi Arabia was to replace Pakistan on the council.

(With AFP)

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