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Russia turns over Security Council reins

  |   April 1, 2008 at 1:57 PM
UNITED NATIONS, April 1 (UPI) -- South Africa is the new leader of the U.N. Security Council in New York, receiving the rotating presidency from Russia.

The presidency of the Security Council is rotated on an alphabetical basis. During Russia's presidency Kosovo, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran and international terrorism became priority issues at the council, Novosti, the Russian information agency, reported Tuesday.

Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said the during the country's presidency 16 official sessions and 13 consultative meetings were held, and five resolutions adopted, including the latest imposition of economic sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program.

Churkin criticized the United States for its recent decision to supply arms to Kosovo, calling it a mistake and "a political provocation in a delicate situation."

The Russian envoy said he hopes a Middle East peace conference Moscow has proposed sponsoring will lead to the U.N. Security Council to playing greater role in settling the conflict in the region, Novosti said.

"The meeting in Moscow is part of joint efforts of the quartet of Middle East mediators (Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations)," Churkin said.

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