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News >  Nation/World

Countries abandon veto-power demand

Edith M. Lederer Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS – Brazil, Germany, India and Japan dropped demands Wednesday for veto power for new permanent members in an expanded U.N. Security Council.

The so-called Group of Four, which have been campaigning vigorously to become members of the U.N.’s most powerful body, were forced to back down because of opposition from a number of countries.

The group has circulated a resolution that would increase the Security Council from 15 to 25 members, including six new permanent seats – with four hopefully going to them and the other two to African nations.

But Wednesday’s revised draft would delay consideration of a veto for the new permanent members for 15 years.

Ambassadors from the Group of Four said in a letter to the 191 U.N. member states that during consultations, it became clear that giving new permanent members the same veto power as the five existing permanent members was a major issue.

After 10 years of debate, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told U.N. member states in March that he wants a decision on council expansion before September, when he has invited world leaders to a summit to consider a major reform of the United Nations so it can deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

Annan suggested if consensus wasn’t possible, the General Assembly president should consider calling a vote. With that timetable in mind, the lobbying in capitals around the world has escalated.

In their letter, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan appealed for “active support and cooperation” for the revised draft resolution.

“Time is now ripe to take a decision on this long pending issue, thus paving the way for a successful outcome of the Millennium Review Summit in September 2005,” they said.

Opponents of the Group of Four also favor expanding the council from 15 to 25 members, but oppose creating any new permanent members. They want 20 non-permanent members to face periodic election by the General Assembly, which they argue is more transparent and democratic.

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