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G4 calls for vote on UN reforms

New York, June 23: India and three other members of the Group of Four (G4) countries bidding for permanent seats in the UN Security Council have decided to go for a vote on their draft resolution on UN reforms in July.

A joint statement issued by external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh and his counterparts from Japan, Germany and Brazil, who met in Brussels yesterday, “expressed their resolve” to introduce the text of the framework resolution, leading to its adoption by the General Assembly after AU (African Union) and Caricom (Caribbean Community) summit meetings in July.

The African Union will meet on July 4 and July 5 and the heads of Caribbean states will meet from July 3 to July 6.

Singh will have a round of talks with his three fellow G4 ministers either by telephone or by videoconference on Saturday, when a decision will be taken on the precise date in July when the resolution is to be tabled as well as the strategy for calling a vote in the General Assembly.

Saturday’s talks will dwell on what Nicholas Burns, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, tells Indian officials tomorrow about the US position on expanding the Security Council.

The sense in the General Assembly here, which is having an informal session to discuss UN reforms, is that the vote on the G4 resolution may take place a few days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to Washington to meet President George W. Bush.

As a follow up to yesterday’s G4 meeting, Japanese foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura today met US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and conveyed the group’s inability to accede to her request to delay tabling its resolution in the General Assembly.

Machimura, who met Rice in London on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) nations, did not even go through the formality of seeking US support for G4’s position, according to sources here.

This is said to reflect the confidence within G4 that it has the mandatory two-thirds support in the General Assembly for the draft resolution after the group dropped its insistence on veto power for new Security Council members.

American sources in Washington, however, said Machimura and Rice will continue their discussions and may talk again after G4 foreign ministers have their next round of consultations on Saturday.

The US has supported Japan’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council.

Machimura’s unwillingness to abandon the G4 despite US support for Japan’s candidature is a severe setback to US plans to split the group and gain entry only for its client states in an expanded Security Council.

The Americans had also hoped to wean India away from G4 by dangling the prospect of US support for an Indian bid to be at the UN’s top table.

Having failed in that effort, US representative to the UN Anne Peterson did not proclaim American support for India in her widely anticipated speech here yesterday on UN reforms.

She said the UN must be reformed lock stock and barrel and that Security Council expansion could not become a priority.

“UN reform must be viewed and dealt with as a whole,” Patterson said in her statement. “Thus, and I must emphasise this point, reform of the Security Council cannot become the exclusive focus of attention by member states or the (UN) secretariat.”

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