The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Down to earth at high table

Moscow, May 8: Even while denying UN secretary-general Kofi Annan's charge that expecting veto power in an expanded Security Council was "unrealistic" and "Utopian", the government is preparing the ground for downscaling expectations to a more realistic level.

A senior government official accompanying the Prime Minister's entourage to the Russian capital claimed that India was not "fixated" on getting veto power as a member of the expanded UN Security Council. Instead, India, he claimed, wanted to pursue UN reforms which would be non-discriminatory and lead to greater democratisation of the world body.

New Delhi, it seems, is in the process of qualifying its position on seeking membership of the Security Council with veto powers, citing complexity of the reform process and the pursuit of democratic principles.

The recourse to a principled stand may provide a possible exit from the jingoistic and, what increasingly seems to be, unrealistic public posturing on membership of the Security Council on a par with its present five permanent members.

"We are not holding on to (the position of seeking) veto power. But this does not mean that if we do not get veto power we would be happy. We would be happy if nobody had veto power at all," the official said.

Clarifying the position further, the official claimed that India was not talking of "veto or no veto".

"India's position on UN reforms is premised on two principles ' that the reforms should be non-discriminatory and that they should lead to greater democratisation of the UN. India is not in favour of some countries enjoying veto power. Ideally, there should be no veto and every member country should enjoy equal rights."

It was important, the official added, that India pushed for reforms that would lead to "greater democratisation and greater participation in the decision-making processes" at the UN. At a time when the world recognised that global challenges had to be faced multilaterally, such democratisation of the world body was imperative, he said.

India, he claimed, did not have unrealistic expectations knowing full well that reforming the UN was not going to be easy. "There are a lot of complexities involved and we realise that a possible scenario could be that there is no reform at all," the official pointed out.

It was India's view that for the first time in many years, a certain momentum had been generated globally for UN reforms and there was a need to recognise that.

"There is a window of opportunity and it is necessary for us to try and make use of it to move UN reforms forward. This is not to say, however, that we have unrealistic expectations. We are conscious of the problems that exist," the official added.

The solidarity of the G4 (India, Japan, Germany and Brazil), all contenders for inclusion in the expanded Security Council, was intact, the official said.

"The G4 is playing an extremely important role. The G4 is also not fixated on just the issue of veto power. It wants to carry forward the joint efforts into the next phase and see how the framework resolution for the reforms and the negotiations on the membership of the Security Council evolve. We want to take all the 191 members of the UN on board on this. In this, our expectations are neither unrealistic nor Utopian," he said.

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