Obama push for India to get top table seat at UN
President Barack Obama gave his backing to India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council yesterday and hailed the relationship between the two countries as the "defining partnership of the 21st century".
His support for a new leadership role for India will now intensify the campaign for reform of the Security Council.
The announcement, during a speech to both houses of the Indian parliament, received sustained applause but the excitement was quickly dampened by his criticism of India's failure to confront the military junta in neighbouring Burma.
"In the years ahead I look forward to a reformed Security Council which includes India as a permanent member," he said.
But he warned that with "increased power" came "increased responsibility" adding that those countries, like India, which sought leadership would also be bound to preserve security and advance human rights.
It would be expected to persuade friends like Iran to "meet its international obligations" on nuclear non-proliferation, he said, and to challenge neighbours like Burma on human rights.
Despite his warning on leadership, Mr Obama also paid tribute to India's historic role in shaping democratic values.
The president was applauded when he said the US would continue to insist to Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders were unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice.
He had earlier declined to brand Pakistan as a "terrorist state" and revealed he had offered to play "any role the parties think is appropriate in reducing tensions" in their dispute over Kashmir.
His offer, however, was rebuffed by the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.
India was recently elected unopposed to the 15-member Security Council, where it plans to use its membership to accelerate reform.
Lalit Man Singh, a former foreign secretary, said the Security Council needed to "reflect the reality of 2010". (©Daily Telegraph, London)