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Waldheim sidesteps UN deadlock

Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim asked Thursday that his name be withdrawn from the next round of Security Council voting to choose his successor. But Monitor special correspondent Louis Wiznitzer reports that Mr. Waldheim has not abandoned his candidacy for an unprecedented third term.

Rather, UN insiders say that this is a technical maneuver aimed at breaking the current deadlock. Up to now, China has insisted upon a third-world candidate , specifically Tanzanian Ambassador Salim Salim, and vetoed Mr. Waldheim. The United States has backed Mr. Waldheim and vetoed Mr. Salim.

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Well-informed officials here say Waldheim is assuming that even without his own name on the ballot, the Security Council will decline to endorse Salim - either by giving him too few votes, or through the US veto, or both. In that case, they add, the pro-Salim forces would no longer be able to argue that it was Waldheim who was blocking the Salim candidacy. The pro-Waldheim forces hope that Salim would then have no alternative but to abandon his bid for the top UN office.

Thereafter, if this thesis holds good, Waldheim would be able to bounce back into the fray. At the same time, to help get the Chinese off the diplomatic hook of their insistence on a third-world candidate, Waldheim is expected to be ready to settle for a term of less than the customary (but not essential) five years - perhaps of 21/2 years instead. This would provide a breathing space in which to find a more widely acceptable third-world candidate.

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