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Jordan elected to UN Security Council as non-permanent member
Saturday December 7, 2013 12:44 PM, Agencies

The 193-member UN General Assembly elected Jordan to the Security Council on Friday to replace Saudi Arabia, which rejected its two-year term in protest at the Council's failure to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues.

Saudi Arabia was elected in October to join the 15-member Council from Jan. 1, but in an unprecedented move Riyadh declined the role a day after the vote. While unopposed as the replacement, Jordan still needed two-thirds approval by the General Assembly. It was elected with 178 votes on Friday, according to Reuters.

"We are extremely honored," Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters after the vote, adding that the election "recognizes the role of Jordanian diplomacy worldwide."

Citing the Security Council's failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, take steps to end Syria's civil war and stop nuclear proliferation in the region, Riyadh said the body had instead perpetuated conflicts and grievances when it declined the Council seat that it had won with 176 votes.

Russia and China have repeatedly blocked resolutions supported by Saudi Arabia to toughen action against Assad, whose government forces' assault on rebel-held areas has been described by Riyadh as genocide.

Jordan emerged last month as the alternative candidate for the traditional Arab seat after Amman dropped out of a race against Riyadh for a three-year UN Human Rights Council seat. Saudi won the position on the top UN rights body on Nov. 12, Reuters reported.

A week later Jordan, which closely follows regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia on most foreign policy issues, announced its plan to run for the Security Council, with officials saying it wanted to raise its international profile and win more recognition for accommodating Syrian refugees.

The United States, Russia, China, France and Britain are permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council.

Jordan is now home to more than 600,000 refugees from the 2-1/2 year civil war in neighboring Syria, according to UN estimates, though Amman puts the figure as high as one million. The refugees are posing a huge strain on the kingdom's creaking infrastructure and limited resources.

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