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    Turkey, eyeing Security Council seat, cites Iran role ahead of election

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    17.10.2008 - 09:33 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkey, making a final diplomatic push for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, has emphasized the key role the country can play to resolve a standoff between the West and Iran over its nuclear program.

    The 192-member General Assembly meets Friday to vote for five new non-permanent members of the 15-seat council, the powerhouse of the U.N. with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers.


    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said both Tehran and western countries, with which it is allied, wanted it to be involved in diplomatic efforts to settle the dispute, but had not been specific about how.     


    "We are in a position, I should say, to understand sensitivities on both sides," Babacan said in an interview with Reuters late on Wednesday in New York, where he was lobbying for Turkey's election to the United Nations' most powerful body.


    He said Turkey, which has not been on the Security Council since 1961, was gaining support for its efforts to secure one of the two-year term, 10 nonpermanent seats on the 15-member council in Friday's election.


    The U.N. General Assembly will elect five nations to serve two-year stints on the council. Turkey is racing against Austria and Iceland for two Western European seats.


    Turkey has to win 128 votes or votes of two-thirds of countries joining the voting to secure a seat at the U.N. Security Council.


    The council has five permanent members, including France, China, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.


    Turkey held a seat on the Security Council in 1951-52, 1954-55 and 1961.


    "This is a secret vote and it will be important for us to continue our efforts until the last day, last hour, and last minutes."


    If it gains a seat on the council, Ankara would be in the delicate position of being not only a facilitator in the talks on Iran's nuclear program but also having to vote on possible increased sanctions against its neighbor Iran.


    The United States and other Western powers fear Tehran is seeking a nuclear bomb under cover of its civilian nuclear program. Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, denies this, saying it only wants to generate electricity.


    "First of all we are against nuclear weapons in our region, so within that framework, of course, Turkey is not supporting Iran owning nuclear weapons," he said when asked how Turkey would vote if sanctions were on the table.


    "But on the other hand we believe this issue can be and should be resolved through diplomacy, through dialogue."


    Turkey, a NATO member that aspires to join the European Union, is a key ally of the United States and has deepened its commercial and business ties with Iran in recent years.


    Turkey's potential role in talks between Iran and six major world powers -- The United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- remains vague.


    "(Both sides) wanted us to be there without being very specific about what kind of a role we are going to play ... We are in a position, I should say, to understand sensitivities on both sides," he said.


    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went to Turkey in August and Ankara said that visit was needed to promote dialogue between Iran and the West.





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