WASHINGTON DC, July 15, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

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The General Assembly session in progress: Below, Dr Shirin Tahir-Kheli of US

India's UN Security Council Dreamboat Sinks in US Waters

By Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON, July 15: The United States on Tuesday explicitly came out against any expansion of the UN Security Council for now, virtually ensuring the issue will be taken off the table when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets President Bush on July 18.

In its most detailed exposition on the matter yet, US representative Shirin Tahir-Kheli told the UN General Assembly debating the G-4 resolution on the issue that the Bush administration did not think any proposal, including its own formulations to expand the Security Council, should be voted "at this stage."

"We will work with you to achieve enlargement of the Security Council, but only in the right way and at the right time," Tahir-Kheli, adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told members. "We urge you, therefore, to oppose this resolution and, should it come to a vote, to vote against it."

(In New Delhi reacting to the statement, the foreign secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, said: “If the US has decided to oppose the G-4 resolution, there is not much we can do about it... whether or not we go ahead with the resolution will again be based on the assessment that we will take together with our partners as also our African brothers and sisters”. )

Typically, in the context of the Prime Minister's visit, when a host country takes such a public stand on any issue, the visiting team takes it off the agenda if it had indeed intended to raise the matter.

In this case, the Bush administration had initially sent some signals that it was inclined to support India's bid, but with New Delhi seemingly reluctant to play ball over various issues, it appears that Washington has shut the door on the subject, quite audibly at that.

Anti-India lobbies in the US also worked overtime to point out India's voting record at the U.N., which has been heavily stacked against US positions.

"Let me be as clear as is possible: the US does not think any proposal to expand the Security Council -including one based on our own ideas - should be voted upon at this stage," Tahir-Kheli, a US official of Pakistani origin, said.

The G-4 proposal could still go up for vote on July 20, Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter Pleuger insisted to reporters. "I think the vote will come," he was quoted as saying."We feel that the votes are there."

The G-4 proposal, which seeks six permanent seats in an expanded Security Council, would need a two-thirds majority (or 128 votes) in the 191-member General Assembly to pass. The votes of the 53-member African Union are crucial to reach this number, but the AU appears to have been set-up by forces determined to stymie the G-4 proposal, a development that led to some rancor during the debate.

According to reports from the UN, the German envoy Pleuger said Algeria's UN ambassador Abdallah Baali, who was speaking for the AU, was duplicitous because it was "unclear" where he was supporting the Uniting for Consensus position or that of the African Union. Baali retorted by calling Pleuger's statement "somewhat sick," and said the resolution the G-4 countries proposed was "unacceptable and incompatible" with African aspirations.

Meanwhile, Tahir-Kheli's boss Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Tokyo on July 11 during a visit to Japan that the United States supports a Japanese seat on the UNSC, an assertion that becomes meaningless given Washington's current opposition to any expansion.

"The United States does not oppose the candidacy of any state, but we are concerned that there will not be enough time for discussions on the Security Council reform, and this very important issue must be given due consideration," Rice said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.

But with China firmly opposed to Japan, and the AU compromised, the UNSC expansion proposal now seems dead in the water. - Courtesy The Times of India

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