The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, Robert Wood, walked out of the conference’s session Tuesday after a representative of Venezuela’s dictator was selected to lead it.
“We have to try to do what we can to prevent these types of states from presiding over international bodies,” Wood said, according to Reuters.
Wood argued that someone representing Juan Guaido, the U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader and declared interim president, should lead the conference instead of a representative of the country’s current dictator, Nicolás Maduro. He also called Venezuela a “rogue state.”
Wood was also a former leader of the conference, which rotates through leadership based simply on where the first letter of the name of a member country appears in the alphabet. He said that allowing members of certain countries to take over just because it was their turn was wrong.
“Clearly, when you have regimes like the Assad regime [in Syria] and the Maduro regime presiding over this body, there s something fundamentally wrong with how we are conducting our business. And we need to examine that,” he said.
Wood also said that the Lima Group, a collection of other Latin American countries, would also no longer be taking part in the conference, Fox News reported. The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru have all publicly voiced their support for Guaido.
The Venezuelan ambassador responded
The conference’s new president, Jorge Valero, who represents Maduro’s government, criticized Wood’s departure, saying that the conference was “not a forum for coup-mongering.
“We regret that the representative of the United States and its docile allies continue to bring to this forum matters that are outside the mandate” of the Conference on Disarmament, Valero said.
Each president oversees the conference for one month.