“Greater understanding needed on New Delhi's case for a permanent seat”

India this week reiterated its calls for “greater understanding” from China of its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), underscoring that the issue was central to any future cooperation between the two countries on the global stage.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told Chinese State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) in an interview, on the sidelines of the on-going United Nations General Assembly in New York, that there was a “groundswell” developing within the U.N. for an expansion of the Security Council, and that India had a legitimate case for becoming a permanent member.

China has, in the past, been reluctant to support India's bid for a permanent seat. Indian officials say talks have made little progress since 2005, when China said it “understood and supported India's aspirations,” but not specifically its bid, to “play an active role in the U.N.” China's position has not changed since.

Ms. Rao told CCTV in response to a question on the future of New Delhi-Beijing relationship that the Chinese government needed to show “greater understanding” of India's case for a permanent seat.

“The world is talking today about the reform of the UNSC, and finding a place for nations which deserve to be permanent members of the Security Council,” she said. “India counts itself among that group of countries. We believe that India is a deserving candidate for permanent membership of the UNSC, and we would like to see greater understanding from China of India's case for permanent membership of the UNSC.”

She said there was “a groundswell developing within the membership of the U.N.,” adding that “more than 140 countries have recently supported the launch of text-based negotiations within the U.N. for the expansion of the Security Council, both in permanent and non-permanent categories.”

The issue figured prominently in recent high-level exchanges between Indian and Chinese officials this year.

In March, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said, during his visit to Beijing, it was “time for China to review previously held positions [on U.N. reforms] and welcome the presence in the Security Council of a nation with which it has much in common.”

Chinese officials, however, said then they were not ready to do so, and wanted “discussions in a patient way to reach a package of consensus on the issue”

President Pratibha Patil raised the issue during her state visit in May. Then, China voiced support for India's bid for a two-year non-permanent seat in 2011, but did not change its position on the permanent seat. The issue also found no mention in the statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry after the President's visit.

The statement called on both sides to work together “to increase the representation of developing countries in international affairs,” but avoided any reference to the UNSC, which Indian officials had sought in talks.

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