Recalling that US president Barack Obama had in 2010 and in 2015 voiced support for India’s candidature for a seat in a reformed UN Security Council, Verma said the American commitment to support India’s bid was explicit.
“US policy is clear, it has not changed, it supports India’s bid to (be a permanent part of)...Security Council,” the ambassador said on the sidelines of an event hosted by the Observer Research Foundation think tank in New Delhi where he spoke on Protecting Our Shared Spaces.
The comments follow a letter sent by American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power earlier this year to UN General Assembly president Sam Kutesa that said that the US is “open in-principle” to a “modest” expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members, but on the condition that “any consideration of an expansion of permanent members must take into account the ability and willingness of countries to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the United Nations”.
Power added: “We believe that consideration of new permanent members must be country-specific in nature,” a PTI report from New York said on Thursday. She also reiterated that the US remains opposed to “any alteration or expansion of the veto”.
These remarks have been viewed in New Delhi as a major reversal of US position on India in a reformed UN Security Council.
With the UN looking to mark 70 years of its existence on 24 October and slated to open its 70th general assembly session next month, India has been trying to build a momentum in favour of an expansion of the Security council.
It is made up of five veto-wielding permanent members—US, Britain, France, China and Russia—and 10 non-permanent members who have no veto powers and who are elected for a two-year term. All council resolutions are biding on its member-states. According to India, the current composition of the Security Council does not reflect the reality of 2015 but the years that followed World War II.
According to the PTI report on Thursday, Russia, which had also supported India’s candidacy as a permanent member, said in its letter to Kutesa that the “prerogatives of the current permanent members of the Security Council, including the use of the veto, should remain intact under any variant of the council reform.”
“The intergovernmental negotiations on the UN Security Council reform should proceed in a calm, transparent and inclusive atmosphere free from artificial deadlines,” it said.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Verma spoke of the sweeping changes in India-US relations in the past decade and a half as he outlined how both countries could join forces for common good.
He also condemned the recent spate of terror attacks in India. “Let me pause here to make clear that we condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent cross-border terror attacks, and stand with the people of India—and all free people—in fighting this scourge of terrorism, wherever it occurs,” he said. “There can be no place, no accommodation, and no justification for those who carry out violence on innocents.” India has blamed Pakistan for recent attacks in Kashmir and Punjab.
On an increased India-US partnership for global peace, Verma said: “It is the US-India relationship that can help counter the trend of global uncertainty and reinforce the rules-based international order. In fact, what we do together has the potential to help underwrite global security and prosperity for the long-term.
“As leading powers, cooperation between the United States and India to preserve the integrity of this public good can drive our bilateral strategic cooperation for decades and will lay the groundwork for the next big breakthrough in bilateral relations,” he said.