| Burns: Playing safe
New Delhi, June 24: The US today said India has the “perfect right” to a seat on the UN Security Council but shied away from committing its support.
The US under-secretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, said his country wants to see two new members in the expanded Security Council, of which Japan is one. But he refused to name America’s second choice.
“Our President has not made up his mind on any other country,” he said after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with foreign secretary Shyam Saran.
“India meets the criteria laid down by the US. As to whom the US chooses will be a political question on which a decision will be taken by the US President,” external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna quoted Burns as having told Saran.
The US official did not say whether Pakistan’s opposition was keeping the US from making its support for India public or if it was waiting for more concessions from Delhi. “Our relation with India is a stand-alone one. It does not have any hyphens.”
Burns described India as a rising power and said the US accords the “highest priority” to developing strategic partnership with the country.
“We see India as a rising power, a democratic country and a friend of the United States.”
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in July, he said: “The President is very much looking forward to host Prime Minister Singh, which would be one of the most consequential summit meetings.”
Commentators have described the US stand on supporting Japan and another country for the expanded UN Security Council as a move to split the Group of Four, in which both Japan and India are members along with Germany and Brazil.
But Burns denied the allegation. He said the US had a “flexible” stand and is trying to act as a bridge between the G4 and the “Coffee Club”, which talks about rotational permanent members with fixed term from different regions.
“In fact, all the members of the G4 are close friends of the US,” he added.
“We believe that the UN should reflect the realities of today rather than what the world was 60 years back,” Burns said, but added that six new countries as permanent members would “depreciate the value and diminish the effectiveness” of the Security Council.
He said the US was in favour of regional representation. “Many regions which have been under-represented in the past should be represented properly in the UN and Asia is one of those regions.”
When it was pointed out that Washington’s refusal to support India for the Security Council seat contradicted the growing ties between the two sides, Burns said the US does not want to reduce bilateral relations only to one issue. “We have a global sense of our bilateral relationship.”