NEW YORK // Arab countries yesterday appealed to Saudi Arabia to reverse a decision to reject a seat on the UN Security Council.
Arab UN ambassadors made the appeal after an emergency meeting on Saudi Arabia’s surprise announcement on Friday that it would not take up a Security Council seat to protest the body’s handling of the Syrian war and other conflicts.
Saudi Arabia’s leaders should “maintain their membership in the Security Council and continue their brave role in defending our issues specifically at the rostrum of the Security Council,” said a statement released by Arab states at the UN.
The statement expressed “respect and understanding” for the Saudi position.
It added however that it was crucial for Saudi Arabia to represent the Arab and Muslim world on the council “at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region”.
Saudi Arabia won a prized two year seat on the 15-nation Security Council in a UN General Assembly election on Thursday.
Riyadh stunned the world the following day however by accusing the council of “double standards” in handling conflicts such as the 32-month-old Syria war.
Many diplomats and analysts have said the Saudi protest was a message to the United States that it wanted a tougher stance on Syria and was angry that Washington had opened contacts with Iran.
Saudi Arabia is a major backer of Syrian opposition rebels and arch-rival of the Iranian government.
Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal from the council term starting on January 1 means that the Asia-Pacific group will have to find a new candidate for a new vote by the UN General Assembly unless the Saudis change their mind.
Saudi Arabia was elected to the council with Nigeria, Lithuania, Chad and Chile. All had stood unopposed in the election.
* Agence France-Presse