| Tony Blair greets Manmohan Singh at Downing Street in London on Monday. (AFP) Report on Page 8
New York, Sept. 20: Even as the spotlight in India is on Manmohan Singh's meeting with President George W. Bush on Tuesday, another summit, bigger in scope and perhaps more significant for India in the long run, is being quietly prepared for the Prime Minister.
A few hours after having breakfast with Bush, Singh will join the Prime Minister of Japan, the President of Brazil and the vice-chancellor of Germany to give birth to what will henceforth be known as the Group of Four (G4).
The aim of this new group, which will have the economic muscle of Germany and Japan, the populous might of India and the respectability of Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is to jointly take up the case of permanent membership for all these four countries in the UN Security Council.
On the eve of the 59th UN General Assembly, restructuring the Security Council has suddenly come into the realm of the possible. This is because a high-level panel appointed by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is to report to him in December. The panel is said to be coming up with a plan for Security Council reform that may work.
A lot of the backroom discussions among heads of state and government gathering in New York this week for the general assembly is likely about Security Council reform in view of the extreme unhappiness among world leaders about the situation in Iraq and the UN's ineffectiveness in the events leading up to the war and its aftermath.
Sources said Singh was initially reluctant to stay in New York a whole week. But he was persuaded that at long last there was a real chance that Security Council reform may be in the pipeline and that India needed to keep one foot in the door ' for which the Prime Minister was required to do some lobbying himself.
When Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was in Brazil last week, he and Lula agreed on the need to create G4.
Germany has been arguing for such an effort. Last week, events moved quickly and the three leaders invited Singh to join them for a meeting that will launch the new group.
Over the next one year, there will also be a series of processes at the UN to evaluate progress towards the Millennium Declaration, which held out hopes for a better world at the turn of this decade.
Members of the upcoming G4 believe that it would be an opportune occasion to push their case for permanent seats at the UN's high table.