U.N. Security seat remains Aussie ambition

March 5, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, March 5 (UPI) -- Australia's new Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he'll keep pushing for a seat for Australia on the U.N. Security Council.

"We've got a strong case and given the expansion of Australia's foreign policy interests and horizons that took place very notably under Kevin Rudd," he told journalists in an open-question session.

"It's got to be said that the Security Council is very important to us."

Carr, who officially hasn't taken over the job yet, also said Australia's alliance with the United States remains a "bedrock."

Carr, 64, studied history at the University of New South Wales. After graduation, he worked as a journalist on radio and newspapers from 1969-83 when he won a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as a Labor Party member.

As leader of the state's Labor Party, Carr won a narrow victory in 1995 and then big majorities in 1998 and 2003. He resigned when his ratings in opinion polls plummeted in 2004.

After resigning the premiership of New South Wales and also politics in 2005, Carr told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper that he had a long-held ambition to become Australia's foreign minister.

His ambition came true late last week after several days of intense speculation about who would get the job. At one time Carr ruled himself out of accepting an appointed seat in the federal Senate from where he would be appointed as foreign minister.

But Carr stood beside a smiling Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard who announced he was to be the next foreign minister soon after he is sworn into a seat in the Senate, vacated last month by a resigning Labor senator.

"My decision to have Bob Carr to serve as foreign minister (is) all part of the decisions I have made to present the strongest team. To make sure we deliver on the government's promises," Gillard said.

Rudd, who resigned as foreign minister last month in a thwarted bid to challenge Gillard for the Labor Party leadership, said Carr was an "excellent choice" for his old job.

"I have known Bob for 20 years and regard him as a good friend," Rudd said in a statement.

"He has demonstrated a strong continuing interest in international affairs He also has been actively engaged with the United States across that period and will be well regarded in Washington."

Carr said in a news conference that he is a "realist, a realist without illusions and realist who is open to idealism."

He praised the efforts of Rudd, who was prime minister from 2007-10 prior to Gillard taking the position.

"I give enormous credit to Kevin Rudd for rather ambitious things on which I was skeptical, like the mobilization of world intervention in Libya," Carr said.

"That commitment to intervention where there's a chance of success in pursuit of humanitarian goals is very significant. That is part or a realist approach to foreign policy."

Carr said he already has spoken to other foreign ministers and denied that in any way he was he a savior of the Labor Party.

"You don't get saviors in politics," he said.

"You just get people willing to roll their sleeves up and work hard for Australia. I just want to do something for my country and it's hard to say no when your prime minister asks you to do that."

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