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UN bribery, blackmail charge

New York, July 31: The Group of Four ' India, Japan, Germany and Brazil ' seeking permanent seats in the UN Security Council and their opponents have shed diplomatic niceties and entered a no-holds-barred phase of the war in the General Assembly.

The Italians have accused the G4 of financial coercion and of blackmailing poor countries into supporting the group’s effort to get on the council.

Japan, the second biggest contributor to the UN, has, meanwhile, threatened that the world body cannot expect Japanese financial support if it rejects Japan’s bid ' and that of the G4 by association ' to expand the council.

The Italian allegation of bribery and blackmail by the G4 prompted India to summon Italy’s ambassador in New Delhi to South Block for a demarche by the joint secretary in charge of West Europe in the external affairs ministry.

South Block also asked Himachal Som, India’s ambassador in Rome, to go to the Italian foreign ministry to express outrage.

In an outburst which stunned diplomats here, Italy’s ambassador to the UN, Marcello Spatafora, told the General Assembly that “a G4 donor country has informed a government that... because of this country not siding with the G4... the donor would put an end to a development project already in place in that country (value $460,000, concerning children) and would never start another important infrastructural project that had already been decided.”

“It is a shame, a shame that, for the sake of preserving the dignity of all member states, we cannot further tolerate,” he added.

Spatafora’s charge threw a weekend meeting of the “Coffee Club” countries opposed to the G4 into turmoil with the widely-admired Colombian ambassador to the UN and her Korean counterpart, among others, criticising Italy’s behaviour as “undiplomatic”, according to UN sources.

G4 diplomats believe that the Italian charge is a sign of desperation within the Coffee Club that an emergency African summit in Addis Ababa on August 4 may result in a joint resolution by the G4 and Africa on Security Council reform, which has a fair chance of two-thirds support in the General Assembly.

Japan’s foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura said there would be a domestic outcry for a cut in contributions to the UN if Tokyo failed to win a permanent seat.

He referred to a recent town hall meeting in Japan, where a participant demanded slashing contributions to the UN if the G4 was outvoted.

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