updated 10/25/2006 11:50:55 AM ET 2006-10-25T15:50:55

Bolivia’s president said Tuesday that his country could emerge as an alternative candidate for a seat on the U.N. Security Council to break the deadlock between Venezuela and U.S.-backed Guatemala.

Evo Morales said he had received Venezuelan support for a Bolivian candidacy, but Venezuela’s foreign minister said his government would only consider an alternate candidate if Guatemala dropped out of the race and the U.S. did not interfere in the process.

Venezuela has been unable to muster enough votes so far to defeat Guatemala for a rotating Security Council seat representing Latin American and Caribbean nations.

In Caracas, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that for now, Venezuela will continue its drive for the seat and is open to dialogue.

Venezuela trailed Guatemala in 34 of the 35 votes in the U.N. General Assembly so far, and tied the Central American country in one round last week. A 36th round of voting is scheduled to be held Wednesday, and some countries in the region expressed hope of seeking an alternate candidate. The winning country must be supported by a two-thirds majority.

‘I hope we can achieve consensus’
Morales, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, raised the possibility of Bolivia’s candidacy during a speech in El Alto. Morales said he had received a call Monday night from Chavez.

“Comandante Chavez called me and he tells me, since our brother Hugo Chavez — Venezuela — has not been able to obtain two-thirds for the Security Council, our friend Hugo Chavez says that to seek consensus, he leaves the candidacy to Bolivia,” Morales said. “We’re candidates for the Security Council. I hope we can achieve consensus.”

Chavez, speaking to supporters Monday night, did not confirm that account.

As for seeking an alternate third candidate, Maduro said “we could only consider that option if Guatemala quits, if the United States ceases its crude blackmail to other governments of the world.”

Venezuela has denounced what it calls coercive measures by the U.S. government aimed at keeping a critical government off the Security Council.

The Security Council has five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. The other 10 seats, filled for two-year terms, are portioned out to the five United Nations regional groups.

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