Tue, Nov 09, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Obama backs permanent Security Council seat for India

Reuters, NEW DELHI

US President Barack Obama yesterday endorsed India’s long-held demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, a largely symbolic move that may put diplomatic pressure on China.

India says a seat on the council would reflect the growing weight of the G20 nation as its trillion-dollar economy helps spur global growth and its government exerts more influence over issues from the Doha round of trade talks to climate change negotiations.

“In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” Obama said in a speech to India’s parliament in New Delhi.

“Let me suggest that with increased power comes increased responsibility,” he added at the end of the first leg of a 10-day Asian tour that has also been seen about gathering support from countries like India to exert pressure on China on its currency.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told a news conference ahead of Obama’s speech that “this was a full endorsement” for India’s permanent membership of a reformed Security Council.

It could still be a pipe dream and likely face resistance from some countries reluctant to water down the power of the five permanent members. However, it is probably Obama’s most headline-grabbing announcement on his first official visit to the world’s largest democracy.

Obama’s trip, with more than 200 business executives, and his UN announcement underscored the growing importance of India, which by 2020 is expected to be one of the five largest economies in the world, along with China and Japan.

“I don’t think India is emerging. It has emerged. India is a key actor on the world stage,” Obama told a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier yesterday.

In his three day trip — his longest stay in any foreign country — Obama announced US$10 billion in business deals, aiming at reassuring voters that countries like India offer benefits for US jobs. He also said the US would relax export controls over sensitive technology, a key demand of India’s.

Meanwhile, at the press conference, Singh appeared to rebuff Obama’s calls for India and Pakistan to move ahead on peace talks.

“You cannot simultaneously be talking and at the same time the terror machine is as active as ever before,” he said. “Once Pakistan moves away from this terror-induced coercion, we will be very happy to engage productively with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues.”

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