UN chief calls India ‘an enduring partner,’ pushes reforms


New Delhi : In a boost to India’s case for a seat in the Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday termed New Delhi “an enduring partner in facing ever more complex global challenges” even as he called for more “political will” to advance UN reforms.

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Describing India as “a leading voice in the developing world, a long-established democracy and a growing economic power,” Ban lauded India’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

“This country’s contribution has helped to make our peacekeeping operations more effective in some of the world’s toughest places, from the former Yugoslavia a decade ago to the Democratic Republic of Congo today,” Ban told reporters at the end of his two-day visit to India – his first to the country since he became secretary general of the global body nearly two years ago.

India currently provides more than 8,000 troops for UN peacekeeping operations, making it the third largest contributor after Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“Our discussions have reaffirmed my belief that, as India reaps the benefit of its economic growth and its commitment to democracy it stands ready to play a greater role on the world stage,” Ban said after holding talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pratibha Patil and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Thanking India for its strong support to the UN in many areas, the UN chief stressed that “India has been and still is a very engaged partner in international affairs.”

“The UN counts on India as an enduring partner in facing ever-more complex global challenges,” Ban stressed.

Ban, who began his diplomatic career in South Korea’s embassy in New Delhi and has visited India earlier as his country’s foreign minister, recalled fondly fond memories of his stay in India and praised India’s achievements in different fields, including cutting-edge science and research.

“Just last week the entire world could measure India’s progress simply by looking up at the night sky, knowing that India had successfully launched its first mission to the man,” he said, while adding that Chandrayaan spacecraft will benefit not just India but also the world.

Describing the UN reforms as “one of the most important items,” he said: “Everybody wants to see an enlarged Security Council which is more representative and democratic.”

Indicating that the reform process was moving, he said member states had adopted a resolution at the conclusion of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly last month about beginning informal discussions on this issue at the plenary level.

“Member states should demonstrate political will and flexibility that they are able to agree on a final draft (for the expansion of the Security Council),” he said.

India is part of the G4 initiative, which also includes Brazil, Germany and Japan, for permanent Security Council seats for these four countries and one or two representative countries from Africa to make the global organisation more democratic and reflective of the 21st century realities of the world.

Manmohan Singh made a renewed pitch for the expansion of the Security Council during his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York last month.

Ban also called for strong and active participation on the ongoing global discussions on climate change and stressed that India’s contribution can be “very effective” in a globally acceptable agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol by the end of the next year.

Climate change was among global issues, which also included the international financial crisis, terrorism, and the situation in Myanmar and Pakistan that figured in his discussions with Indian leaders.

He also praised India’s constructive role in promoting democratic transition in Myanmar and hoped that it would continue to help in this process.

Underlining his concerns about the spurt in terrorism and extremism and Pakistan, Ban expressed hope that India and Pakistan will continue to improve their relations through dialogue.