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India to Press Annan for Permanent Security Council Seat

Kofi Annan
An Indian Foreign Ministry statement says the visit of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is taking place at a "critical juncture," when he has outlined an agenda for reform of the world body.

Mr. Annan's proposals include enlarging the Security Council's permanent membership, setting out rules for when the body can authorize military force, and adopting an international definition of terrorism.

So when Mr. Annan meets top Indian leaders in New Delhi on Wednesday, they are expected to lobby him in their campaign for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

India believes it deserves a permanent seat on the Council because of the country's growing economic clout, and because it represents almost one-sixth of the global population. China, the only country with a population larger than India's, is already a permanent member.

A political analyst with New Delhi's Center for Policy Research, Bharat Karnad, says India has long desired to play a greater role in world affairs, and feels its time has now come.

"It's been there for many, many years, but now it has teeth, India has acquired the muscle, and in years to come it will have even greater powers. So it would be wise for the international community to accommodate India's ambitions," said Mr. Karnad.

New Delhi says U.N. reforms are necessary if the organization is to reflect contemporary realities and become more relevant. It also argues that developing countries must be given a greater voice in world forums such as the United Nations.

It has been pressing its point of view with developed countries in recent years. It used last week's African-Asian summit in Indonesia to solicit the support of developing countries.

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh told the summit that the present Security Council configuration, with its five permanent members, represents 1945, and not 2005.