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[casi] Chalabi seeks to take seat at UN

Chalabi seeks to take seat at UN

By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
(Filed: 22/09/2003)

Ahmad Chalabi, the head of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council, hopes to
score a diplomatic victory by taking over Iraq's seat at the United Nations.

Aides said Mr Chalabi would not wait for formal recognition, instead
attempting a fait accompli at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

He will be helped by the remaining Saddam Hussein envoys, who are still
formally accredited at the UN, but have no voting rights because Iraq has
not paid more than 8 million of subscriptions.

"Nobody knows what Iraq's status is," said one Iraqi official. "The
delegation will occupy its seat. If there are any objections, we will deal
with them at the time."

Mr Chalabi will hope that the Arab League's decision this month to admit the
new Iraqi administration will ease his way at the UN. But Iraqi officials
fear that the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez may object.

Last week, Venezuelan officials said they would oppose the admission of the
Governing Council to the Opec oil cartel, which is due to hold a meeting
this week in Vienna.

In the wrangling over a resolution setting out the post-Saddam rebuilding of
Iraq, diplomats and officials at the UN say America and France have abruptly
swapped roles in their attitude to the council.

A UN source said: "The French would have said a short time ago that Chalabi
was America's puppet. Now they want to empower him and it is the Americans
who are saying 'Let's not rush things'."

Mr Chalabi, emboldened by the French stance, has been urging America to give
the council greater "sovereignty", including control of its own security

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