View Full Version : U.S. wants to bridge gaps on UNSC reform, urges China to back Japan

Jul 2, 2005, 02:56
U.S. wants to bridge gaps on UNSC reform, urges China to back Japan

Friday July 1, 11:07 AM

(Kyodo) _ The United States intends to serve as a bridge between the two opposing camps on U.N. Security Council reform with a "flexible" approach and to press China to back Japan's bid to become a permanent member, a top U.S. State Department official said Thursday.
But the United States wants to see "more serious attention" to overall U.N. reforms instead of focusing only on overhauling the council, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said in an interview with a small group Japanese reporters.

"Our position is flexible," Burns said in referring to the policy Washington unveiled July 16 for U.N. reforms. It backs only "two or so" countries, including Japan, to take new permanent seats without veto power and allowing two or three more nonpermanent members.

"If you look at our proposal, it takes something from each of the (two opposing) camps and tries to unite them," Burns said.

"We don't want to see the camps collide. We'd rather have a bridge between the camps, perhaps we are one of the bridges between the camps," he said.

Burns was referring to the Group of Four countries -- Japan, Brazil, Germany and India -- which are seeking to win permanent Security Council membership by proposing expanding the council's seats to 25 with six new permanent and four new nonpermanent members.

The other camp, known as Uniting for Consensus, calls for expanding the council only with nonpermanent members. The group, which includes Italy, Pakistan, Spain and South Korea, endorses a plan to add 10 new nonpermanent members.

"We think (the U.S. position) is a good compromise between the two proposals," Burns said.

On China lobbying together with South Korea and other nations to block Japanese permanent membership, Burns said he has called on Chinese officials, including senior Chinese officials visiting Washington and the ambassador here, to support Japan.

"I've made it very clear that the United States will continue to support Japan and we hope that China will make the same choice," he said. "China ought to be open-minded about Japan's Security Council plan, and we hope that China will eventually agree."

"We also believe that it is important for China and Japan to have a good and productive relationship," Burns said.

Burns said he has also told South Korean officials that Washington hopes Seoul's relationship with Tokyo will improve as the United States, Japan and South Korea "have important mutual responsibilities" as allies.

The United States named only Japan when it announced its support for two or so nations joining the Security Council as permanent members without veto, and Burns said, "We are a very enthusiastic supporter of Japan."

Burns said Japan meets all the criteria the United States proposed in its policy for new permanent members. The criteria include a country's economic size, population, military capacity, potential to contribute militarily to U.N. peacekeeping missions, commitments to democracy and human rights, counterterrorism, and nonproliferation.

Asked about India, Burns said the country "meets most of these criteria," but noted that the United States has not made a decision on other nations it will support for both permanent and nonpermanent seats.

Asked whether the United States plan to table its proposal soon at the United Nations, Burns indicated the United States intends to wait and see how discussions develop over other proposals so it can deal with the situation flexibly.

"We have not yet made the decision if we would formally table the American proposal and put it to a vote," Burns said. "It is much more likely that other proposals might be considered first."

But as Washington stressed in announcing its policy, Burns said the United States wants to prioritize and see progress on overall U.N. reforms instead of placing full attention on the council's overhaul.

"The United States is very interested...in having results on the major body's reforms -- secretariat reform, management, budget, on a peace-building commission, on a human rights council, on the convention on terrorism, on the fund for democracy," Burns said, referring to the U.N. summit in September in New York.

"If we can make good progress on these reforms, we hope to see progress on Security Council reform," he said.