Reuters International

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Italy and The Netherlands proposed on Tuesday splitting a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council after the U.N. General Assembly was deadlocked on which to choose following five rounds of voting for the final 2017/18 seat.

The 193-member General Assembly elected Sweden, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Bolivia on Tuesday to replace Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela on the council from Jan. 1, 2017. The Netherlands and Italy were tied with 95 votes each.

Countries need more than two-thirds of the vote to win a seat. Italy and The Netherlands are competing for a seat belonging to the "Western European and Others" regional group, which is due to meet on Wednesday to approve splitting the term.

The General Assembly would then need to vote in favour of the action.

Just days after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Italy and The Netherlands believed their Security Council deal could "send a message of unity between two European countries."

"It will be an honour for Italy to serve in the Security Council in 2017 and to cooperate with The Netherlands serving in 2018," Gentiloni told the General Assembly.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said it was important to show unity during a complex time for Europe.

According to Security Council Report, a New York-based research group, it was common in the 1950s and 1960s for countries to split terms on the Security Council.

The General Assembly elected Sweden with 134 votes in favour, Ethiopia with 185 and Bolivia with 183 in the first round of voting. Kazakhstan beat Thailand with 138 votes in favour in the second round of voting.

The council is made up of 10 elected members - five voted on each year and five permanent veto-powers that include the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia. The council is the only U.N. body that can make legally binding decisions.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Toni Reinhold)

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