The US has acknowledged disagreements with India on proposed reforms of the UN Security Council but said it is committed to New Delhi’s inclusion as a permanent member of the powerful body.
“The (US) President has made the statement (endorsing India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council), not once but on multiple occasions. And no one is walking away from the commitment made to support India's inclusion," assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said.
Biswal was responding to questions about recent statements by US diplomats at the UN, which many in New Delhi have perceived as the Obama administration having second thoughts on endorsing India as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council.
“The nature of what a reformed Security Council looks like is a very complex undertaking. I am not going to comment on that. It is not an area where I am engaged," she said.
“But I do know that this is an area where there are very intense deliberations and discussions and they are extremely complex and nuanced. So the process by which we get to this is going to be a complicated one.”
Biswal said there would be “some aspects of that process where we and India agree on the approach and process and what the reforms process would look like”.
“There would be many areas where we do not agree. And every disagreement on a process should not be taken as a lack of support for India's inclusion,” she added.
Biswal said it will be “complicated to manage the overall” process of reforming the UN Security Council. “The outcome of the Indian inclusion in the Security Council is the one we have already at the highest level endorsed,” she said.
She refrained from elaborating on disagreements between India and the US on the reforms process. “I do not even know if it’s appropriate to talk about these issues. Because these are deliberative process that need to be worked through on how different proposals on reforms are reconciled," she said.
“I don't think those are going to be deliberated in the public domain. Those are conversations that are best left to the folks to be able to (be) worked through.”
Biswal reiterated there was no change in the US position on supporting India. The American Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, had said the US is “open in principle” to a modest expansion of permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.
But she added the condition that "any consideration of an expansion of permanent members must take into account the ability and willingness of countries to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the UN”.
Last week, the UN took a significant, though procedural, step towards the long-awaited expansion of the Security Council, for which India is a leading candidate.
The UN General Assembly adopted the “Decision on UNSC Reforms” which puts before the body the text of a proposal for the first time in 23 years since the issue has been on its agenda. It set the stage for talks on the matter at the 70th session of the global body.
This is major progress for the glacial pace at which the process has moved so far, marking, at the same time, defeat for countries opposed to it, including China and Pakistan.