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Ukraine, Japan face tense diplomacy as UN council newcomers

Update: October, 15/2015 - 10:43

UNITED NATIONS, United States — Ukraine and Japan are among five countries set to win election to the UN Security Council today, taking seats alongside Russia and China.

Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay are running unopposed for five non-permanent seats on the 15-member council after regional groupings put them forward as their choice.

Despite the regional backing, the five countries must still lobby hard to garner support, needing two-thirds of votes from the 193-nation General Assembly to win the seat.

Voting gets under way at the General Assembly around 10:00am (1400 GMT) with results expected later in the day.

The newcomers will begin their two-year stint on January 1, replacing Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria.

One of the most experienced Security Council members, Japan, will be taking its seat for the 11th time.

Taking a tough line on North Korea, Japan is expected to raise concerns about the Pyongyang regime at the council even though China sought to block discussion about human rights when it came up in December.

"For Japan and Ukraine, sitting on the council is a great advantage. It provides leverage because it provides access to this tremendously kinetic stage," said David Malone, rector of the United Nations University.

But Malone said countries could decide to avoid clashes at the council to better serve their agendas.

Ukraine and Japan will be making "their own calculation on how to use or not use the council in pursuing their national interests," Malone said.

In weighing whether to confront China, Japan will have in mind its campaign for a permanent seat at an expanded Security Council, a plan fiercely opposed by Beijing and resisted by Russia and the United States.

The three countries are permanent members, along with Britain and France.

Egypt is returning to the council for the sixth time as Yemen, Libya, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories join Syria on the list of Middle East crisis spots.

The council is also gearing up to play a key role in overseeing the Iran nuclear deal.

Africa, where nine of the UN's peacekeeping missions are deployed, remains a focal point, with the violence in South Sudan and the Central African Republic on the council's radar.

The newcomers will be joining the other five non-permanent council members: Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela. — AFP

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