French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for adding new members to the exclusive G-8 and the UN Security Council so they can more effectively deal with problems that continue to defy efforts by Western governments.
Sarkozy said in an address to the UN General Assembly that the UN Security Council, currently with 15 members, and the world's group of eight leading industrialized nations (G-8) should be enlarged to reflect demands of emerging countries.
The G-8 in particular could become the G-14, with new members like China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil, the emerging economic powers among developing countries. The group currently comprises of the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Japan, Britain and Russia.
Though Russia is a member of the G-8, its relations with the West were stressed over its invasion of Georgia in August and US Republican presidential candidate John McCain had even called for ousting the Russians from the G-8.
Italy will host next year's G-8 summit and will propose a major reform to the group, Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy said the world is still governed by 20th-century institutions in a 21st century world.
"Let today's major powers and the powers of tomorrow unite to shoulder together the responsibilities their influence gives them in world affairs," Sarkozy said in an address to the UN General Assembly.
"To all those who are hesitant, I wish to say that enlarging the Security Council and the G-8 is not just a matter of fairness, it is also the necessary condition for being able to act effectively," he said.
"We cannot wait any longer to enlarge the Security Council," he said.
The 192-nation assembly has been engaged in a so-called open-ended process in the past 15 years to reform the Security Council, which now includes five veto-wielding permanent - the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China - and 10 elected ones.
Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union (EU) presidency, turned to Russia, declaring, "Europe does not want war."
"What Europe is telling Russia is that we want links with Russia, that we want to build a shared future with Russia, we want to be Russia's partner," he said in a reference to the recent clash between the EU and Russia over the conflict in Georgia.
He called for building a "continent-wide common economic space" uniting Russia with Europe.
Sarkozy warned, however, that Europe cannot compromise the principle of sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity and respect of international law on the issue of Georgia.
Turning to the nuclear dispute with Iran, the French leader said in a press conference that France and Europe stand ready to impose additional sanctions against Iran for refusing to stop conversion activities on its uranium enrichment programmes. He said Russia and China could help also in resolving the dispute.
But Sarkozy said he would refuse to shake hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was also attending the UN General Assembly session in New York.
"It's difficult to shake the hands of a man who called for the destruction of Israel, that declaration is unacceptable," Sarkozy said.
He said the current Tehran regime's nuclear ambitions is putting the Iranian population and the world in a "gigantic risk."