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'Time ripe for Obama to back India's UNSC bid'

By Aziz Haniffa
Last updated on: October 18, 2010 21:24 IST
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Barack ObamaKarl F Inderfurth, former United States assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs in the Clinton administration, who was with President Bill Clinton during his transformational India visit in March 2000, acknowledged that there is no deliverable that can match an explicit and public endorsement by President Barack Obama of India's candidacy for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

"I believe it would a great thing if the president were to do this during his visit," Inderfurth, professor of international relations at George Washington University, told Rediff India Abroad. He was a senior foreign policy adviser on South Asia for Obama during his presidential campaign, and has over the years consistently and strongly argued that the US should support India's bid to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

"The time is ripe for that and this is something that has been debated for a very long time. It's time for the United States to publicly, explicitly and strongly support India's bid for a permanent seat," he said.

Inderfurth was part of a high-powered bipartisan study group of former South Asia hands who served in both the Clinton and George W Bush administrations, who have put together a report titled Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of US-India Relations under the aegis of the Center for a New American Security, to be released this week.

"This (US support for India) is long overdue," he said. "Both the Clinton and the Bush administrations missed opportunities to signal its support for India. This is something the Obama administration should do, and will be remembered for doing."

This, he continued, "would not only be good for India, it would not only be good for the United States to see India become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, but it would also be good for the United Nations. This would be so good for the UN because the elite club of 15 and the even eliter club of the P-5, does not reflect the geopolitical realities of the 21st century. It was a vestige of 1945 and a modest expansion thereafter. And for the UN and its most important body, the Security Council, to remain credible and legitimate for the 21st century, it must be expanded. And if it is to be expanded, how could India not be a permanent member?"

He said, "No one will underestimate the difficulty of expanding the Council within the framework of 192 nations, but what we should do is to be on the right side of that issue -- and that means supporting India for a permanent seat."

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC