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Opinion divided over Obama endorsing India's bid in UNSC

world Updated: Nov 09, 2010 11:21 IST
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The announcement by US President Barack Obama that his Administration endorses India's bid for a permanent seat at UN Security Council is more of "symbolic" in nature and lacks "substance", American experts have said.

But senior Administration officials quickly dismissed such line of thought stressing that any announcement by the US in this regard carried a lot of weight at the international level and it would be incorrect to say that Obama's statement is symbolic in nature.

At the same time it is conceded that there is long way to go before India gets its rightful place at the UN Security Council, given the current political set up, the divergence of views among the community of nations and lack of a strong consensus in this issue at the world body.

"I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member," Obama said in his address to the joint session of the Parliament amidst thunderous applause.

With this the US has become the fourth country, after Britain, France and Russia to endorse India for the UN Security Council.

"This is not the most important issue in the world right now, more symbolic than anything, but symbols seem to be very important for MEA and the Indian media class," said Stephen P Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institute, and a noted scholar on South Asia.

Obama's announcement did not surprise Cohen.

"The problem was not US support, but opposition to India in particular by others, and the whole problem of UN reform," Cohen said.

Echoed Robert Hathaway of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a major Washington-based think tank.

"Many Indians will regard the President's pledge to support India's bid for a permanent UNSC seat as the highpoint of the visit. But since no one believes Indian membership in the Security Council is imminent, in some ways this was merely a symbolic step, albeit a truly important one," said Hathaway, Director, Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Beyond deepening the US-India strategic partnership launched by the Bush administration, the Obama announcement may help break the logjam that has kept the UNSC's permanent membership mired in the world of 1945, said Stewart Patrick of the Council on Foreign Affairs.

He urged the Obama Administration to follow its endorsement with an initiative to gradually expand the UNSC based on clear criteria for permanent membership.