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Seat at UN high table minus veto

New Delhi, April 28: India will not get veto power even if it gets a seat in an expanded UN Security Council. The unambiguous words came from none other than the man who heads the world body ' secretary-general Kofi Annan.

'No, there will be no veto powers for the additional members in the Security Council,' Annan said today while addressing a news conference at the UN office here to round up his four-day visit to the country.

But he added that he hoped '2005 will be the year of decision', a clear reference to the reform and restructuring of the UN that have been long overdue.

Annan, whose term ends next year, was here to discuss the proposed reforms with Indian leaders. It has not been divulged, but the secretary-general may have spoken of the difficulty that India and the five other aspirants for a permanent seat in the council could face if they insist on veto powers like the five permanent members ' the US, France, UK, Russia and China.

Although the proposal to induct new members without veto powers runs contrary to the logic that has spurred some Asian and African countries to seek restructuring of the UN to make it more representative, it is turning out to be the only pragmatic way of bringing about a change.

Annan said calls by some UN members for the five permanent members to give up their coveted powers to block important resolutions was 'utopian' and not realistic.

'It is utopian to think that the five permanent members will give up their veto powers...,' he said. 'What is important is to have effective representation to make the council more democratic and ensure voices of all the regions are heard.'

Many countries think India is a rightful contender for a seat, Annan said. But he added that two proposals are being debated among UN members ' induction of six new members with permanent seats or membership by rotation, with a fixed term. He showed no preferences.

Earlier, during a question-answer session after a lecture he delivered on the 'changing role of the UN', Annan said: 'Let's not get too involved with vetoes. Enlargement without veto will itself be a major step forward. The UNSC will get different viewpoints which most countries are not able to present at the moment.'

Many in the Indian leadership as well as several of Delhi's key allies agree with the secretary-general. But Delhi does not want to accept the argument lest its bargaining position gets weakened.

Annan suggested setting up two new inter-government bodies. One is a peace-building commission that would bring together different actors involved in helping countries move from war to lasting peace and the other a human rights council in which states from all regions would participate.

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