Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama supports India on UNSC bid

New Delhi November 8, 2010

US President Barack Obama backed India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council on Monday, a dramatic diplomatic gesture to his hosts as he wrapped up his first visit to India.

Obama made this announcement in a speech to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on the third and final day of his visit.

"The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," Obama said in prepared remarks. "That is why I can say today - in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

The Associated Press added: The announcement does not mean that India will join the five current permanent Security Council members anytime soon. The US is backing its membership only in the context of unspecified reforms to the council that could take years to bring about.

That makes Obama's announcement more of a diplomatic gesture than a concrete step. Nonetheless, it underscores the importance the US places on fostering ties with this nation of 1.2 billion people, something Obama has been seeking to accomplish throughout his time here.

Obama said repeatedly throughout his three days in India - first in the financial centre of Mumbai and then in the capital of New Delhi - that he views the relationship between the two countries as one of the "defining partnerships" of the 21st century. He set out to prove it by making India the first stop on a four-country tour of Asia, and then through economic announcements, cultural outreach and finally the announcement about the UN Security Council.

India has sought permanent council membership as a recognition of its surging economic clout and its increased stature in world affairs. The US endorsement is certain to deepen ties between the two countries and could also send Obama's popularity in India skyrocketing to a level comparable to that enjoyed by George W. Bush. The former president is seen as a hero here for helping end India's nuclear isolation.

- With inputs from Associated Press

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