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Timetable for UNSC Expansion Opposed

Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guangya said Wednesday that China is opposed to setting a timetable for the expansion of United Nations Security Council.

Wang made the remarks while addressing the 191-nation UN General Assembly, which was meeting to discuss the UN reform report presented by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 23.

Wang, who holds the rotating presidency of the UNSC for April, said that priority in Security Council reform should be given to increasing the representation of the developing countries.

"In the long-term interest of the United Nations as a whole, China is not in favor of setting an artificial time limit for Council reform and still less of forcing through any immature proposals lacking consensus in the form of a vote," he stressed.

Wang said the consensus-seeking process should be characterized by democratic, in-depth discussions, patient consultations and orderly procedure to win broad trust and support from the general membership. A hasty vote on immature proposals before September could jeopardize consultations on other reforms and affect the drafting of the final document of the UN summit, he warned.

He suggested that discussions should not be confined to the two council expansion models contained in Annan's report, stating that China is open to all proposals as long as they are conducive to overcoming divergence and maintaining unity among the member states.

"Security Council reform is only one part of the reform process of the United Nations and should not be allowed to eclipse equally important reform in other areas," he said. "We do not wish to see debate and controversy surrounding the council's reform marginalize or even jeopardize consultations on other issues, particularly those concerning development."

State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan echoed the remarks in Beijing on Wednesday in a meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Carolina Barco Isackson, saying that there should be no push for a vote while council members "obviously disagree" on the proposals.

Barco agreed, saying that the UN reform should be comprehensive and that members should reach a broad consensus on the issues.

In his report, Annan called for a decision by the General Assembly on the expansion of the 15-member Security Council before world leaders gather in New York in September for a UN summit.

He also expressed veiled support for a vote on the matter by the assembly if no consensus could be reached after "healthy discussions."

The report offered two models for the council's enlargement. Model A would increase the number of permanent members from the present five to 11 and add three new non-permanent members for a total of 24 seats. Two of the permanent seats would go to African nations.

Model B would create a new class of eight semi-permanent members, which would have four-year renewable terms, and add one non-permanent member, also for a total of 24.

Model A has been supported by France, Britain and Russia as well as by Brazil, Germany, Japan and India, the four front-runners in the competition for new permanent seats. Supporters have proposed putting the issue to a vote in the UN General Assembly slated for September.

Model A is opposed by at least 20 medium-sized countries, including Mexico, Italy, Pakistan and South Korea, which favor Model B.

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn April 7, 2005)

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