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US clashes with Russia on UN human rights debate

© AFP/File | US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley wants to schedule the human rights debate for April 18, but the council adopted a program of work for the month without putting it on the agenda

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

Russia threw up a hurdle Monday in a US plan to hold a high-profile debate later this month on human rights during the US presidency of the UN Security Council.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley wants to schedule the human rights debate for April 18, but the council adopted a program of work for the month without putting it on the agenda.

Russian charge d'affaires Petr Iliichev said he was open to discussion on the scope of the debate and argued that the UN Human Rights Council -- not the Security Council -- was the venue for the meeting.

Iliichev told reporters following a brief meeting to adopt the monthly agenda that "just a general statement that international peace and security are threatened by human rights violations is not true."

Diplomats said China and Egypt also expressed reservations over the debate that would be the centerpiece of the US council presidency, along with a meeting on peacekeeping to be held Thursday and another one on North Korea on April 28.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters that a "way out" of the dispute could be found.

Haley told a news conference that she will press on with the planned debate in a move that would force Russia and China to call for a procedural vote to try to block the discussion on April 18.

That attempt, however, is likely to fail as only nine votes are needed in the 15-member council for the debate to be formally put on the agenda.

"We do fully expect to have that on the 18th," said Haley.

"Human rights is to me integral in how a country treats their people and what can cause protest and conflict and how that can lead to more serious situations where the extremists can actually come in and take advantage of those vulnerabilities."

Haley said discussions were ongoing to try to address the concerns raised by some council members.

© 2017 AFP