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Australia Seeks UN Security Council Seat

Australia has made a bid to secure a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The effort is part of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's push to make Australia a bigger player on the world stage. Mr. Rudd has met with the U.N. secretary-general in New York as part of a global tour. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

Kevin Rudd's plan to seek election to the U.N. Security Council in 2013 is an ambitious move. It is part of a push by Australia's new prime minister to make the country a more active "middle power."

Australia last served a two-year term on the U.N.'s mos t powerful body in 1986.

Mr. Rudd observed wryly that he thought that was a "fair … old wait between drinks."

Australia can expect tough competition. Finland and Luxembourg are both candidates for a seat and more Western nations are expected to emerge as candidates.

The Australian leader, who won election in November, had a two-hour meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to in New York over the past few days.

Mr. Rudd says his government fully supports the United Nations but seeks reforms at the organization.

"In fact, I met the United Nations' Secretary-General this afternoon and told him that Australia was determined to assist in the reinvigoration of the United Nations through our greater engagement with it," he said.

The Security Council comprises five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.

The Australian government thinks that reform of the U.N. should reflect the rise of both India and Japan, both of which have argued for permanent seats on the council.

Australia is also calling for the newly expanded U.N. political mission in Afghanistan to become "fully effective and fully operational as soon as possible."

Australia has several hundred troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Rudd will discuss the future direction of the military campaign to stabilize the country at a meeting of NATO countries this week in Bucharest.

The prime minister is on a 17-day world tour to discuss trade, security and climate change. Earlier, he met with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington to discuss Canberra's plans to withdraw its combat forces from Iraq.

Mr. Rudd will also visit China, which is one of Australia's most important trading partners.