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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Analysis: India's Security Council seat bid
By Ethirajan Anbarasan
BBC Tamil service

Singh, Koizumi, Lula, Fischer
India, Japan, Brazil and Germany are backing each other
When the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for New York early this week to address the UN General Assembly, the mission was clear - vociferously pitch for UN reforms that will pave the way for his country to gain a permanent place in the Security Council.

For more than a decade, India has been calling for expansion of the council by including developing countries to ensure it is more representative.

Being the world's largest democracy, India argues that it is a natural contender for a place in the council - also being sought by Germany, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, South Africa and some other nations.

But how far has India convinced the world that it deserves a better deal in the current geopolitical situation?

Wary China

Of the five permanent members (P-5) with powers to veto any resolution, three - Britain, France and Russia - have openly supported India's case, thanks to India's intense lobbying.

In addition, some African and West Asian nations have endorsed India's claim.

For every potential candidate there will be opposition from the region or from somewhere else
Professor Thomas G Weiss

The other two members of the P-5 group, the United States and China have not stated their formal positions.

US support is crucial for any expansion of the council while China has traditionally been opposed to the expansion of permanent members of the Security Council.

It feels that the time is not yet ripe for discussion on the subject.

China, which fought a brief war with India in 1962, is yet to resolve its border dispute with Delhi.

Beijing is also wary of Japan gaining entry to the council.

India has also not bagged wholehearted support in its own backyard, South Asia.

Unsurprisingly, Pakistani officials this week made it clear that Islamabad was opposed to India becoming a permanent member.

If India gains an a upper hand in the international stage, Pakistan fears it will lose hold on the issue of the disputed region of Kashmir.

"For every potential candidate there will be opposition from the region or from somewhere else, making the case difficult," says Professor Thomas G Weiss, director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the CUNY Graduate Centre in New York.

Nepal's ties

India's eastern neighbour, Bangladesh, is yet to make any official pronouncements on the issue.

UN Security Council in session
The will of the big powers is likely to determine council expansion

Tense relations, ranging from border disputes to water sharing, may sway Dhaka's decision.

Though informal discussions are taking place, Bangladesh is not expected to decide soon and will analyse the trend among the P-5 nations.

Nepal has closer cultural and economic ties with India and despite reservations in certain quarters, Kathmandu is expected to come out in support of Delhi.

Being one of the largest donors to Nepal, Japan would also bank on Kathmandu's support.

Sri Lanka, which looks to Indian economic and military co-operation, is another country that has had mixed relations with India.

But on Tuesday it expressed support for a collective bid by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan for permanent slots.

So will the lack of unanimous support in the region affect India's chances?

"Not necessarily," says Rahul Roy Chaudhury, research fellow for South Asia at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies.

"I think at some stage Delhi will need to take these countries into confidence on this issue. But the key issue is the possibility of expanding the council. It is unlikely that the P-5 countries will become P-8 or P-9 in the short term," he says.

The will of the big powers is likely to still hold sway.

"If the council is expanded the likelihood is that the present permanent members will not give up their veto. Nor are they likely to accept that new members should have a veto as well," says Professor Weiss.

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