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Annan Calls for Early Agreement on UN Reforms


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for an early consensus on wide-ranging reforms proposed for the world body. Ending a four-day trip to India, Mr. Annan also said U.N. members generally agree that the next head of the world body should be from Asia.

The U.N. head, Kofi Annan, said in New Delhi Thursday that member countries should decide "one way or the other" on recent proposals for an overhaul of the world body before meeting in New York in September.

The proposals include expanding the permanent membership of the Security Council, but without giving new members the power of veto.

Mr. Annan says enlargement of the powerful Security Council - even without the veto - would make it more representative, and be a major step forward.

"What is important is to have effective representation on the Council, to make the Council more democratic, to ensure that voices of other regions are heard, and I think that sort of change will not only make the decisions of the Council much more acceptable generally, but the Council itself would gain in greater legitimacy," said Kofi Annan.

The countries lobbying for permanent membership of the Security Council are Japan, India, Brazil and Germany.

Indian leaders pressed their claim for a seat during the U.N. chief's visit and Mr. Annan said many nations consider New Delhi's aspirations "legitimate."

The U.N. chief stressed that expanding the Security Council is just one element of a broader agenda for change, which should focus on developing world concerns such as disease, poverty and hunger.

Mr. Annan also said that "unless there are dramatic changes", member states agree that the next U.N. chief should come from Asia.

The U.N. chief also called for an early return to constitutional rule in Nepal, where King Gyanendra has assumed direct power and put many political opponents in detention.

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