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India Presses for Permanent UN Security Council Seat

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, (l) and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
India has pressed its claim for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council in talks with visiting Secretary-General Kofi Annan. India is hoping to play a larger role in the world body.

India's foreign ministry says it has urged U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to implement "comprehensive" reforms so that the United Nations can effectively reflect contemporary global realities.

Mr. Annan held discussions with Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on the proposals for far-reaching changes in the world body. At the heart of the reforms is the suggested expansion of the permanent membership of the powerful U.N. Security Council.

India has been actively lobbying for its inclusion on the Security Council. It says the world's largest democracy and a rising economy deserves to play a more influential role in U.N. affairs, a point of view reiterated to Mr. Annan.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Navtej Sarna says Indian officials and the U.N. secretary- general agreed the reforms should be introduced as quickly as possible.

"We are in touch with a large number of countries, and we are following this process very closely, and we agree with the U.N. secretary-general's assessments that the U.N. reforms should be finalized and in place by September this year," said Navtej Sarna.

Mr. Annan's proposed reforms are expected to be discussed at a U.N. summit in New York in September.

Indian officials also say they stressed New Delhi's opposition to proposals that would give it one of the new seats on the Security Council, but would deprive it of the veto held by the current five permanent members.

Indian leaders also briefed Mr. Annan about the improving security situation in South Asia. At a meeting held in New Delhi recently, the leaders of India and Pakistan said the peace process they have undertaken is "irreversible."