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Germany

Westerwelle pushes for Security Council reforms

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for diplomatic action in Syria and Iran during a speech at the UN General Assembly. He also renewed Berlin's efforts to gain a permanent seat on the Security Council.

The United Nations is a place of hope - and often also a place of failure. Conflicts cannot always be solved peacefully and diplomatic talks too often result in an impass. Recently that has been obvious whenever international diplomats meet at the UN Security Council to discuss Syria's ongoing civil war.

The Council has not lived up to its commitment to the people of Syria, according to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who gave a 15-minute speech at the UN General Assembly on Friday (28.09.2012).

Germanyhas a non-permenant spot on the Security Council until the end of the year and is pushing for a resolution against the Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime - three such resolutions have been vetoed by China and Russia.

"Despite the escalating violence and despite the blocade in the Security Council we cannot stop working on a political solution," Westerwelle said, adding that Germany supports Lakhar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, in his search for a political approach to the issue.

Fruitless negotiations with Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu, pauses after drawing a red line on a graphic of a bomb while discussing Iran during an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012 in New York City. The 67th annual event gathers more than 100 heads of state and government for high level meetings on nuclear safety, regional conflicts, health and nutrition and environment issues. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Netanyahu was clear on Israel's position regarding Iran

The foreign minister also addressed the ongoing debate over Iran's nuclear program, which dominated remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday. The Israeli leader left no doubt that his country would attack Iranian nuclear facilities if Tehran did not stop enriching uranium. The Israeli government has said Iran would be in a position to build a nuclear weapon next year if its weapons program is allowed to continue.

Westerwelle accused Tehran of failing to provide satisfactory answers to serious questions during negotiations about its nuclear program, which Iran has insisted in civilian in nature.

"The talks in the past months have not brought us sufficiently closer to a solution," he said, adding that the issue concerned the security of Israel and the entire region. "I call on Iran to stop playing for time. The situation is serious. Very serious."

US President Barack Obama also told Iran that its window of opportunity to find a diplomatic solution would eventually close.

No clash of cultures

Westerwelle said he understood many Muslims felt their faith was under attack by an anti-Islam film that was partially responsible for setting off protests in several Muslim countries.

"But legitimate criticism and indignation are not justification for violence and destruction," he said, adding that there was not a clash of cultures but a clash within societies between moderates and radicals.

The UN Security Council during a meeting Copyright: UN

Westerwelle's speech is the most recent call by Germany to reform the Security Council

UN needs reforming

At the end of his speech, Westerwelle addressed the current condition of the United Nations.

"We will weaken the Security Council if we are unsuccessful in adapting it to today's world," he said, adding that the fact that no African or Latin American country has a permanent seat on the Council was no longer in line with the current geopolitical situation. He was the latest politician to accuse the UN of losing credibility by not updating its structure to fit the modern world.

Germanywas ready to take on more responsibility, Westerwelle said. The comment is largely seen as Germany, as the third-largest contributor to the UN, vying for a permanent seat on a reformed Security Council. But as the world addresses other topics, including Syria and the European debt crisis, there appears to be little momentum behind reforming the United Nations.

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