Four countries seeking permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council have failed to reach agreement with African nations on a formula for Council enlargement. The failure puts a damper on hopes for speedy approval of an expansion proposal.
Brazil, Germany, India and Japan say they will not ask the U.N. General Assembly to vote on their Security Council expansion plan until the end of the month, while they try to win African support.
The announcement came after top foreign ministry officials of the so-called G-four countries met with African Union leaders Sunday in New York. Backing of the 53-nation African bloc is critical to passage of the G-four resolution.
India's U.N. Ambassador Nirupam Sen said efforts to bridge the gap between a G-four plan and a competing AU plan would continue.
"For that purpose, a committee has been set up, a joint mechanism between the AU and G-four has been set up, we'll see how the two texts can be merged, it will produce results which will be examined by foreign ministers of AU and G-four on July 25," Mr. Sen says.
The agreement is a setback to plans by Brazil, India, Germany and Japan to win quick General Assembly approval of their expansion proposal. The plan would add 10 new seats to the 15-member Security Council, including four seats which presumably would go to them, and two others that would be reserved for African countries.
Germany's Ambassador Gunter Pleuger had earlier said it is critical that a vote on the G-four measure be held before the end of July. He had downplayed differences between the two sides, saying in the end, the G-four proposal is the only alternative.
But Foreign Minister Oluyemi Adeniji of AU president, Nigeria, suggested to reporters after Sunday's meeting that African countries would insist in having their views included.
"You wait until you see the results. When you negotiate you don't count on one side to do all the giving and one side to do all the taking," Mr. Adeniji says.
Mr. Adeniji and other participants in Sunday's meeting expressed confidence the differences could be worked out. But the eight-day delay is nevertheless a blow to the G-four timetable for approval.
The AU proposal calls for slightly more African representation on the Council than the G-four plan. The General Assembly is scheduled to begin debate on the African draft resolution Monday.
The G-four proposal came in for harsh criticism from many quarters during two days of debate last week. The United States urged nations to vote against it. Other permanent Council members China and Russia also spoke in opposition.
Security Council enlargement is one of a package of U.N. reforms that Secretary-General Kofi Annan is hoping to have approved when world leaders gather in New York in September to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body.
Most nations have agreed for years that the Council's membership reflects the world's post-World War Two power structure, and needs to be updated for the 21st century. But changing the Council is difficult. It requires ratification by the legislatures of two-thirds of the 191 member states, including all five permanent members.