New York, June 21: Stung by a backlash to the Bush administration’s crude attempt to split the Group of Four (G4) and wean away India and Japan from the group’s joint bid for permanent seats in the UN Security Council, US representative to the UN Anne Patterson has delayed her potentially landmark statement on UN reform in the General Assembly today by 24 hours.
The statement was widely expected to announce America’s support for India’s claim to one of the new permanent seats and expand on the criteria set out by the state department last week for expanding membership of the Security Council.
Notwithstanding delay in Patterson’s statement, efforts to thwart the G4 strategy will consume American diplomacy in the next 48 hours.
Before arriving in New Delhi for talks with Indian officials, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, will stop in London tomorrow to meet his counterparts from the other permanent members of the Security Council.
He will make yet another effort to persuade Japan not to table the G4 resolution on the Security Council expansion in the General Assembly when he meets his Japanese counterpart separately in London.
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will be in Brussels tomorrow, when the G4 foreign ministers, including India’s K. Natwar Singh, meet in the Belgian capital to discuss the US challenge to their strategy.
If the G4 shows any sign of wavering, Rice may make her move in Brussels and seek bilateral meetings with the group’s most vulnerable members to pressure them into abandoning the G4.
Adam Ereli, the state department’s deputy spokesman, could not answer questions yesterday about any such meeting.
But the contempt here for the G4 was evident in the question he was asked: “Could you check if there are any plans for the secretary to have bilat(eral)s with any member of the so-called G4 nations that are seeking permanent membership (of the Security Council)'”
On Thursday, Rice and Burns will together meet foreign ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries in London.
Although that meeting’s main agenda will be the forthcoming G8 summit in Britain, the US will impress upon the group the desirability of a common position on UN reforms.
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan will also be in Brussels when the G4 foreign ministers meet there tomorrow.
Annan and Rice are in Brussels primarily for a donors’ conference on Iraq.
Burns will leave for New Delhi after the G8 meeting.
Patterson yesterday asked the General Assembly secretariat to reschedule her speech. She is now the 42nd speaker in the current debate in the Assembly.
Diplomats at the UN said she ostensibly sought more time after African and Latin American countries reacted adversely to Washington’s plans to selectively support only India and Japan for permanent seats in the Security Council.
Angry that the US was ignoring Africa and Latin America, several states from these regions, which were earlier lukewarm in their support for G4, rallied under the group’s banner.
India is listed as the 32nd speaker in the debate.
Its stand will be outlined by the deputy permanent representative, A. Gopinathan, as Nirupam Sen, India’s UN ambassador, is a key player in the diplomatic moves in Brussels.