Don't push for veto power in UN, Nikki Haley tells India

18 October 2017

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that America was open to UN reforms to expand the permanent membership of the Security Council, but the key for India to get on it would be to ''not touch'' the issue of veto power that current members are unwilling to give up or share.

But the UN reforms ''is much more about the veto'', Haley said at a discussion hosted by the India-US Friendship Council.

The five permanent members who have veto - the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China - ''none of them wants to give that up''.

The ''key to getting India on the Security Council would have to be not to touch the veto,'' Haley, an American with Indian origins, added, in a rare public discussion of the American position on India's claim to a permanent UNSC seat, which was first endorsed by former president Barack Obama on a visit to India in 2010.

India has staked a claim to a permanent seat on a reformed UN Security Council with all related powers, but the US along with other members of the G-4 pressure group - Germany, Japan and Brazil - has backed, deferred and phased rollout of the veto power, after a transition period of 15 years.

The Trump administration reiterated US support for India's membership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit there last June. Vice-president Mike Pence also expressed his support in a speech to a trade body the next day. And now the US ambassador to the UN has done the same, which was the first for her.

But India has been disappointed by the slow pace on the issue at the United Nations, as conveyed by Indian officials at recent UN general assembly meetings.

The US was not opposed to the reforms, Haley said in response to a question. Russia and China were.

While Russia has backed India's claim, it has not been enthusiastic about reforms generally, not taking a position on any of the other claimants. China is the only permanent member not to back India but it has not backed any other country.

On the issue of the veto, the US and UK don't want to let go of it or share it, only France has said it was open to it. Russia remained ambivalent, and China hasn't even got past the first block to even begin to consider the question of sharing or giving up the veto.

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