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Germany

US Reportedly Opposed to Berlin's UN Bid

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly is opposed to Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. But Berlin remains confident it will eventually garner Washington's support.

Chancellor Schröder apparently hasn't convinced Condoleezza Rice

According to the Washington Post's Wednesday edition, Rice expressed her opposition while meeting with members of a congressional task force considering reform of the United Nations. The newspaper quoted from a confidential memorandum of a May 5 meeting between Rice, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell.

"(Rice) thought that there was a very poor rationale for giving another member of the European Union a permanent seat," the Post quoted the memo as saying. "In many respects, Europe already had a common foreign policy, and that needed to be taken into account in the Security Council."

G4 proposal

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, left, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, second from left, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, second form right and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Only on Tuesday, Germany, together with India, Japan and Brazil, has started circulating a draft UN motion calling for an enlargement of the UN Security Council. The four are leading candidates for permanent seats. Their proposal calls for expanding Security Council from the current 15 members to 25.

The motion does not mention who would be amongst the 11 permanent members but the current permanent Security Council members, the US, Russia, China, France and Britain would certainly retain their seats. The text also does not say who amongst the six new permanent members would get a seat, but recommends two for Asia, two for Africa, one for Latin America and one for Western Europe, which Germany would naturally have its eye on.

The revamp of UN institutions would need the support of 128 UN member countries, but the opposition of one of the permanent five Security Council members could veto the proposal. If Washington is opposed to Berlin's bid, the entire reform could be shelved. China has already expressed concern over making Japan a permanent member.

Berlin stays upbeat

The Security Council at United Nations Headquarters in New York

Despite the memo detailing Rice's reservations, German officials remained upbeat that Washington had not yet decided to torpedo Germany's UN aspirations. Wolfgang Ischinger, the German ambassador to the United States, told the Washington Post that the United States has not taken an official position. He added that the latest proposal would actually address Rice's concerns about overall European representation on the Security Council.

"The bottom line is that our proposal would not increase, but decrease, the relative weight of Europe," Ischinger said. "I think that is a very, very strong argument."

German government spokesman Thomas Steg also focused on the preliminary nature of the debate over UN reform on Wednesday. He said Berlin was optimistic there would eventually be broad support for the G4 proposal.

"The process of discussion has just started and will pick up pace as it continues in New York," Steg said.

DW.DE