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Germany, France Support UN Reform Plan

DW staff / AFP (jen)December 2, 2004

Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac emphatically welcomed proposals to revamp the UN Security Council, at the same time pledging their support for an embattled Kofi Annan.

Annan's reform plans got the support of Schröder and ChiracImage: AP

At the German-French summit on Thursday in the German city of Lübeck, Chirac said his country would work closely together with its UN partners to institute "concrete reforms" of the Security Council.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said the reforms should come up for ratification at the UN general assembly in September 2005.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder promised Annan the "complete support" of Germany and France in instituting the changes.

Schröder and Chirac phoned Annan before making their statements, sources in the French delegation told AFP news service.

Support during crisis

Jacques Chirac und Gerhard Schröder in Lübeck
Chirac (left) and Schröder in LübeckImage: AP

During the phone call they also offered their "friendship and support" to Annan, who is under fire for alleged mismanagement of the scandal-plagued Iraq oil-for-food program. There have even been calls for Annan's resignation over the issue.

As part of a long-discussed overhaul of the international body -- the first in 50 years -- a commission formed by Annan had suggested enlarging the Security Council to 24 members, from the current 15.

In the reform report, due to be officially published on Thursday in New York, the 16-member commission had suggested two possible models. One would have six new permanent and three additional temporary members, and the other would give the Council nine new seats, all of them temporary.

Japan hopeful

Germany is pulling for the permanent seats in the hopes that it will get one of them. However, the names of any new permanent members weren't given.

According to previous reports on the reform plans, Germany is working to secure a two-thirds majority in the 191-member nation general assembly that's needed to get it passed.

Japan, Brazil and India support the plan as well as they all hope for permanent seats for themselves. Britain, France and Russia have indicated support for the aspirations of these four countries, the US has so far refused to give Germany a nod of approval.

Bush administration officials have, however, voiced their support for Japan, a supporter of the Iraq war unlike Germany.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said his country will use the reform proposals to renew its push for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

"Japan hopes to make use of this chance given the rise in momentum for reforms," Koizumi told Kyodo News.

According to Reuters, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt would compete for the African seats.

Major revamp

Support for the second version comes from countries such as Italy, a US ally in Iraq and a strong opponent of handing a permanent seat to Germany. Italy, which locked heads with Germany and France over Europe's role in Iraq, worries giving a Council seat to Germany, in addition to the two permanent seats already occupied by France and Britain, would weaken its role in the European Union.

Others favoring the plan to introduce eight semi-permanent seats include Pakistan, which rejects India's place on the Council and Mexico and Argentine, which oppose Brazil's claims.

The proposed reforms would be the first major revamp of the organization in more than 50 years and would have to be approved by the UN General Assembly.