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Italy hosts ministerial meeting on UNSC reform in Rome.

ROME, Feb. 5 Kyodo

An Italy-led U.N. group opposing the so-called Group of Four's bid to get a permanent Security Council seat met in Rome on Thursday.

The meeting, hosted by the Foreign Ministry of Italy, a key member of the Uniting for Consensus group, brought together representatives from 75 U.N. member countries, including foreign minister-level officials from 37 countries such as Russia, China, South Korea, Pakistan and Argentina.

The Group of Four -- Japan, India, Brazil and Germany -- and other countries like Britain and France were not invited to the one-day meeting, which was held ahead of the scheduled intergovernmental negotiations from Feb. 19 by U.N. members over the proposed expansion of the Security Council.

The United States took part in the Rome meeting as an observer.

Italy's hosting of the meeting followed a U.N. General Assembly decision in late January to kick off the intergovernmental talks over U.N. reform on Feb. 19.

Italy, South Korea, Pakistan, Mexico and other members of the Uniting for Consensus Group apparently reacted against the U.N. decision, which was basically in line with a call by the Group of Four for an early start of intergovernmental talks over the matter.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters after the meeting that participants agreed that broad support is necessary before any decision is made on overhauling the Security Council. The comment was taken as warning by the Italian-led group against what it sees as Group of Four moves to hasten U.N. reform through intergovernmental talks.

While it is generally agreed that Security Council reform is necessary to ensure equitable representation in its membership, views are widely divergent on how to alter the current structure -- five permanent veto-wielding members and 10 nonpermanent members who serve two-year terms on the council.

The Uniting for Consensus group is pressing for expansion of the council, but only in the number of nonpermanent seats.

The group had been calling for U.N. reform to be discussed at the Open-Ended Working Group, a formal framework for negotiating the issue where unanimous consensus needs to be reached for any decision.

But the Group of Four -- all permanent-seat aspirants for the Security Council -- have been pressing for UNSC reform to be discussed at intergovernmental negotiations as progress can be quickened because decisions are based upon a two-thirds majority rather than unanimous agreement.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Feb 10, 2009
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