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Saudi Arabia Turns Down UN Security Council Spot

Saudi Arabia has turned down a spot on the United Nations Security Council because of what it called double standards that are hampering the body's effectiveness.

The Saudi foreign ministry said Friday that it will not join the 15-member Security Council until unspecified reforms are undertaken to allow the council to carry out its responsibilities to preserve the world's peace and security.

The French ambassador to the United Nations said France understands Saudi Arabia's frustration. He said it reflects the frustration of a large part of the international community over the Security Council's inability to act due to repeated vetoes by its permanent members.

In its statement Friday, the Saudi foreign ministry blasted the council for failing to pass resolutions to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his role in the country's bloody, two-and-a-half-year civil war. Russia and China, both permanent members of the council, have vetoed such resolutions three times.

The Saudi foreign ministry said the council's inaction has allowed the Syrian regime to kill its own people. It also criticized the council for its inability to solve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has taken note of media reports of Saudi Arabia's decision to reject its Security Council seat, but cautioned that he has received no official notification.

Saudi Arabia was elected Thursday along with Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria to serve on the Security Council starting in January. All non-permanent members are elected to two-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly.

In addition to Russia and China, the United States, Britain and France make up the other permanent members of the council.

Some countries have expressed opposition to the five permanent members' veto power, saying this allows resolutions to be halted even if they are supported by a large amount of the international community.

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