Pakistan, 3 other nations chosen for 2-year UN Security Council terms
October 21st, 2011
07:19 PM ET

Pakistan, 3 other nations chosen for 2-year UN Security Council terms

By Mick B. Krever

Four countries, including Pakistan, were elected Friday to join the UN Security Council in January as nonpermanent members for two-year terms. Also elected, via secret ballot, were Guatemala, Morocco and Togo.

Azerbaijan and Slovenia remained locked Friday night in a race for the fifth seat after several rounds of close voting.

This will be the seventh time Pakistan has served on the council and the fourth time it will serve alongside longtime rival India. The council could be a crucial testing ground over the next two years for Pakistan's strained relationship with the United States.

"We hope to play our usual role of taking on matters which affect the underdog, so as to speak," Pakistani Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said.

With regard to India, Haroon said that both countries "have been beneficial in starting dialogue" and avoiding "usual tendencies."

Manjeev Singh Puri, India's deputy ambassador to the UN, embraced Haroon after the vote and said that he warmly welcomed the election of Pakistan.

"Pakistan and India share common perception on so many global issues, and we look forward to working with them," Singh Puri said.

Starting in January, the council will have as members seven of the nine nations known to have nuclear weapons: China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Absent will be Israel and North Korea.

Guatemala will serve on the council for the first time after a failed 2006 bid. That race, against Venezuela, lasted three weeks and 48 rounds of voting, the third-longest in UN history. Guatemala and Venezuela ultimately agreed to drop out of the race, and Panama was elected in their place.

Countries are voted onto the Security Council by all 193 UN member nations. Election day transforms the General Assembly Hall into a veritable schoolhouse, with countries exchanging small gifts in an attempt to curry last-minute favor.

Hungary, whose bid to sit on the Security Council failed, handed out Rubik's Cubes, which were invented by a Hungarian architect.

Leaving the council will be Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

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