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Signal to India: dump G4 for US support

New Delhi, Nov. 15: The US is in favour of a smaller expansion in the UN Security Council and is willing to work with India, leaving it to New Delhi how it disengages itself from its ongoing commitment with the G4 proposal for a larger council.

This was indicated by Shirin Tahir-Kheli, the point person of US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, on UN reforms.

The G4 (Japan, Germany, Brazil and India) not only wants the entire group to get into an expanded Security Council but also wants two new members to come from the African Union. This is not acceptable to the US.

America favours Japan’s candidature but has left its options open on other candidates. With Gerhard Schroeder, who opposed the US invasion of Iraq, no longer at the helm, the US may rethink the candidature of Germany to the Security Council.

Tahir-Kheli, who is senior adviser on UN reforms to the US secretary of state, is currently in Delhi holding consultations “on a common agenda for reforms”.

She said India shares with the US the belief that reforms will strengthen the UN and that the world needs “a better managed, more accountable and more transparent UN system”.

Tahir-Kheli claimed that Rice had said time and again that the US wants “an increased role for India in all aspects of UN reforms, including the Security Council reforms”.

The US, she claimed, wanted to work together with India for “balanced reforms” in a multiplicity of areas ' ranging from putting in place the Democracy Fund, a new structure for human rights, concluding the Comprehensive Convention Against International Terrorism, setting up a Peace Building Commission to Security Council reforms.

She said, including Japan, the US had also indicated that “two or so” new members should be added to the Security Council. “This is under discussion and we are in close contact with India,” she said.

Tahir-Kheli, however, added: “We have also said that the expansion should not be so large that the Security Council becomes ineffective. That was our problem with the G4 proposal. Now discussions are restarting and they will accelerate in the New Year. We will work with India to get the reform proposals through.”

She said it was wrong to club the US with China. “Unlike China, the US supports the expansion of the UN Security Council. So the charge that we are one with China is incorrect.”

She praised India for being the first country to donate to the Democracy Fund. “A lot of countries followed India’s lead and now we have $42 million from 26 countries.”

The US, she claimed, wanted “to go together with India to put in place a new structure for human rights” as it believed that it was one of those countries whose opinion mattered on human rights.

She pointed out that India had taken the lead in another area ' the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. “We hope that we can conclude the talks on the convention and we will work with India on this.”

Tahir-Kheli listed the creation of a Peace Building Commission as yet another area where the US and India would work together.

“Nearly 50 per cent of the countries that are stabilised through UN peacekeeping return to instability soon after the UN moves out. This commission will look at ways of enhancing international response in a co-ordinated fashion to maintain order, reconstruct and redevelop the economy, institutions and, hopefully, democracy,” she said.

“The bottom line is that a better functioning UN is our common goal and not an American imposition on the world. We may have different priorities but our objective is common,” Tahir-Kheli claimed.

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