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South Korea makes last-ditch UN Security Council bid

SEOUL — South Korea is stepping up last-ditch efforts to win a nonpermanent seat in the UN Security Council ahead of a vote scheduled for October 18. Seoul is pitching its role in Northeast Asian security and world peace stemming from its strategic location and North Korea's threat, to achieve one of this year's biggest diplomatic projects. The country is vying against Cambodia and Bhutan to secure a two-thirds majority required for the slot assigned to Asian countries. The winner will replace India, whose two-year term expires at the end of the year.

"A country that has risen from the ashes of war, we have learned the values of peace and security. ... (South Korea) is determined to fulfill this role with the greatest enthusiasm and devotion," Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in his address at the UN General Assembly on September 28, soliciting support.

The council consists of five permanent veto-wielding members — the US, China, Russia, the UK and France — and 10 nonpermanent members including Germany, South Africa, Colombia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

South Korea served in the council from 1996-97.

The 15-member group is in charge of steering international sanctions, military actions and peacekeeping operations.

In New York, Korean diplomats are making their final pitches to prospective backers with a goal of winning in the first round of voting.

Some competitors in the past went had to go through dozens of votes. For instance, Venezuela and Guatemala contended in 47 matches in 2006 and Colombia and Cuba in 154 rounds in 1979 as they repeatedly failed to attain sufficient ballots.

"We're even scheduled to contact with regional groups and individual member countries until the day before the vote. I can't disclose the number of perceived supporters but there's no particular problem (winning the spot)," Kim Sook, Seoul's permanent representative to the UN, told Yonhap News in New York.

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