London, Feb. 23: The British government would not like India to have veto powers although it is in favour of extending the membership of the UN Security Council, it became clear today.
In a Commons written reply, a British government minister spelt it out that the UK was against extending veto powers to any new members of the UN Security Council. Kim Howells, foreign office minister of state, said the British government backed reforming the Security Council but ruled against changing the veto.
This will be a disappointment to India but perhaps not a surprise. The permanent members are: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.
Howells was replying to David Hamilton, Labour MP for Midlothian, who asked: “What the government position is on giving a veto to representatives from (a) Germany, (b) Japan, (c) India, (d) Brazil and (e) an African representative as part of a permanent membership of an enlarged UN Security Council.”
Howells replied: “The UK takes its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council seriously and has regularly voiced its clear support for Council reform. However, the government does not support expanding veto rights to any new permanent members.” He added: “An expansion of veto powers is unlikely to be accepted by the wider UN membership.”
When Tony Blair and Manmohan Singh have met face to face, the British Prime Minister has always given the appearance of being sympathetic to India’s ambitions.
In 2005, when they met, the Indian Prime Minister put forward his position which remains unchanged: “We have been trying to convince the members of the UN that in the changed circumstances, a Security Council which does not include important countries like ours as Permanent Members is not fully reflective of the complexities of managing the global interdependence of nations. We have run into some temporary hurdles, but we don't propose to give up.”
The question for India now is whether to accept membership to the top club, even if it is second class, rather than no membership at all.