Friday, October 15, 2004

NEW YORK — The 15-nation U.N. Security Council will rotate a few degrees next year, with the five nations elected yesterday for two-year terms more sympathetic to Washington than the five nations that are completing their terms.

Japan, Denmark, Tanzania, Argentina and Greece each won coveted positions on the council, which is in charge of security-related issues such as troop deployments in troubled spots.

As of Jan. 1, they will replace outgoing members Pakistan, Angola, Germany, Chile and Spain.

“Are we happy to be rid of the Germans? You betcha,” said one American diplomat who asked not to be named. “We didn’t have nearly as much trouble with anyone else.”

Germany teamed up with France, a permanent council member, beginning in late 2002 to lead U.N. opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Japan, on the other hand, has been one of the strongest backers of the United States in Iraq and elsewhere.

The General Assembly yesterday elected the incoming council members, each of which had the full and early endorsement of other nations in their respective regions.

“On balance, I think it will be a group slightly more friendly to U.S. interests, especially with Japan and Argentina,” said Nancy Soderberg, vice president of the International Crisis Group think tank and a former U.S. envoy to the United Nations in the Clinton administration.

The council has 10 members elected to staggered terms, and five permanent members. The five permanent members are the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

Five other elected members, whose terms expire Dec. 31, 2005, are Algeria, Benin, Brazil, the Philippines and Romania.

The Security Council is responsible primarily for maintaining international peace and security, although its mandate has broadened in recent years to include protection of civilians, halting the spread of AIDS and fighting terrorism.

In the secret ballot, Argentina received 188 votes, Greece 187, Tanzania 186, Japan 184 and Denmark 181 out of a possible 191 votes in the General Assembly.

U.S. officials say they are delighted to have Japan aboard, because Tokyo has a history of voting with Washington, and because it pays such a large share of U.N. regular dues and peacekeeping expenses.

“We are welcoming the Japanese,” a U.S. diplomat said. “Having the two most generous nations on the Security Council will be a welcome sight.” The United States is the biggest financial contributor to the United Nations with Japan a close second.

Denmark, which will be joining the council, was a supporter of the Iraq war and one of the first to send troops to the coalition.

Miss Soderberg said that Tanzania would likely be a useful voice in negotiating peace accords in Africa, in part because President Benjamin Mkapa has taken a role in many of the peace efforts.

“You’ll see strong leadership there,” she said. “They’ll take it very seriously. [Mr. Mkapa] is one of the continent’s more promising leaders.”

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