India confident of 150 votes in UNSC bid

India is confident of garnering at least 150 votes in the UN General Assembly that could fast-track its bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council as well.

New Delhi: India is not only set to be elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2011-12 in October but is confident of garnering at least 150 votes in the General Assembly that could fast-track its bid for a permanent seat as well, according to well-placed diplomatic sources.

The 192-member UN General Assembly will decide on candidates for non-permanent seats in October. If all goes well for New Delhi, India will be in the Security Council for a two-year term as a non-permanent member from Jan 1, 2011, the first time in 19 years it will get the prized seat.

With Kazakhstan withdrawing from the race in January, India mounted a calibrated diplomatic campaign in all key capitals of the world, with a special focus on Asian and African countries, in a bid to clinch two-third votes in the UN General Assembly required to win the seat.

Now, with the Asian group supporting India, it has managed to secure commitments from around 130 countries, much beyond the 128 votes required, senior officials involved with planning India`s UN strategy, said.

But India`s UN policy makers are not sitting pretty on numbers. Galvanized by widespread support cutting across regions, an unstinting recognition of its rising global stature, India has now raised the bar further and is now looking to mop up at least 150 votes.

"Getting two-third votes won`t be a problem. We want to get at least 150-160 votes. It will further bolster our claim for a permanent seat when serious text-based negotiations begin for expansion of the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent seats, likely next year," said the sources. "And we are hopeful of managing an overwhelming tally," added a source.

The pace of India`s UN ambitions will pick up momentum when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna goes to New York to participate in the UN General Assembly around Sep 20. A meeting of foreign ministers of G4 countries, including India, Japan, Brazil and Germany bidding for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, has been set up on the sidelines, the sources said.

It will also be an occasion for low-key but focussed diplomacy when India is expecting more commitments endorsing its claim for a non-permanent seat to come from fence-sitters, sources said.

India is leaving nothing to chance to avoid a repeat of two diplomatic fiascos: the crushing defeat of Japan in the 1996 vote for a non-permanent seat in the UN and Shashi Tharoor losing out to South Korea`s Ban ki-Moon for the coveted post of UN secretary general in 2006.

In an encouraging development, some of the countries in the United for Consensus, informally called Coffee Club, who were opposed to the G4 bid, are now backing India`s claim for a permanent seat.

Many countries in the Coffee Club did not have problems with India`s candidature, but were hostile to their rivals in the G4 grouping, an official pointed out. Pakistan opposed India`s bid, Mexico opposed Brazil`s candidature, and Italy was dead set against Brazil`s UN ambitions.

Now, many of the Coffee Club countries are backing India for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council, said a senior official who did not wish to be identified.
In a boost to India`s soaring UN ambitions, the BRIC grouping that includes Russia, China and Brazil backed India`s claim for both a permanent and non-permanent seat in the Council at their summit in Brasilia in April.
Since then, there has been further evolution in China`s position during President Pratiba Patil`s state visit to Beijing in June when it stopped just short of declaring support for India`s UN seat and indicated it will not stand in the way.

The Council has five permanent members - China, France, Russia, Britain and the US - and 10 non-permanent members.



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