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India lobbies for UN seat during Kofi Annan’s visit

DPA | April 27, 2005

New Delhi - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday met India’s top leadership, who pitched for permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council.

This and UN reforms were on top of the agenda of Annan’s talks with External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh.

They also discussed the political developments in Nepal, where King Gyanendra sacked the government and imposed a state of emergency on February 1, a government spokesperson said.

His trip will be followed by the official visit to India of premier Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, which is also keen on a UNSC permanent seat, along with Germany and Brazil.

President APJ Abdul Kalam spoke to Annan about launching a partnership between India and the UN for the development of rural areas in Asian and African countries.

The UN chief later met premier Manmohan Singh, Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi and leader of the opposition Lal Krishna Advani. He visited the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, revered as an apostle of non-violence and the father of the Indian nation.

India said Annan’s visit was taking place at a “critical juncture” since it has been pushing for change to “make the UN more relevant and effective in discharge of its mandate”.

India turned down a request by the UN chief to visit southern coastal states after last December’s tsunami. When Annan came to India in March 2001 he upset the government of premier Atal Behari Vajpayee by expressing a willingness to mediate between India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Annan arrived in New Delhi late on Monday. On Wednesday he was scheduled to deliver a lecture on the changing role of the UN.

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