US allies elected to UN Security Council

The United Nations on Thursday elected four U.S. allies — Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda — to two-year stints on the powerful Security Council.

All four countries are expected to often side with the United States on crucial issues that could come before the U.N.'s power center, such as sanctions on Syria and Iran. A fifth new Security Council member, Argentina, has had a more tortured relationship with the United States since the election of leftist President Cristina Kirchner, a close ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.

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Rwanda's bid got off to a rocky start after neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo on Thursday accused it of harboring war criminals involved in a rebellion on its territory, Reuters reports. The United States is believed to have sought to shield Rwanda from criticism, but has started to warn its ally against meddling next door in recent months.

The five new members — and another five that were elected last year — will join a body that has the power to authorize military action, peacekeeping operations and international sanctions. Unlike the five permanent members, however, they don't have veto power.

“The United States congratulates Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda on their election today as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for 2013 and 2014,” the U.S. mission to the U.N. said in a statement. “We look forward to a strong and productive partnership with these incoming members to address issues fundamental to international peace and security, including nuclear non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, conflict prevention and resolution, promotion of democracy and human rights, and the oversight of complex UN field operations.”

The new members will replace Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa. U.S. relations with India have come under strain during the country's tenure on the council as the United States has pressed it to approve tough sanctions on Iran, India's fourth biggest oil supplier.

“We are neither trying to reduce nor increase imports from Iran," Indian Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy announced this week.