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US said not seeking seat on new UN Rights Council

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Apr 6 (Reuters) The United States has decided not to run for a seat on the new UN Human Rights Council, US officials said today.

''It's a question more of tactics than principle. The principle is we want to support an effective human rights council. That doesn't mean we have to run for a seat on it,'' one senior U.S.

official told Reuters on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement is expected later in the day.

He added that the United States believes many good candidates have already put their names forward for the election set for May 9 and ''we'll probably run for a seat later on.'' ''This decision is not a reflection on our willingness or unwillingness to work with the council but how we can we best play a positive role,'' he said.

An influential US lawmaker, Rep Tom Lantos of California, senior Democrat on the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, expressed outrage at the administration's decision to forgo a run for the new council.

''This decision represents a major retrenchment in America's long struggle to advance the cause of human rights around the world, and it is a profound signal of US isolation at a time when we need to work cooperatively with our Security Council partners,'' Lantos said in a written statement.

The 191-member UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on March 15 to create the new human rights body to replace the discredited UN Human Rights Commission, whose current members include Zimbabwe, Sudan, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, all of whom have poor rights records.

US Ambassador John Bolton voted against the creation of the new council, saying the new rules were not tough enough to prohibit rights violators from getting a seat. But most US allies supported it as a viable compromise while Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands backed Washington.

REUTERS SBJ RAI2122

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