(by Erica Werner, YahooNews.com) AP, NEW DELHI – President Barack Obama on Monday backed India for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a…diplomatic gesture to his hosts at the end of his first visit to this booming nation.
Obama made the announcement in a speech to India’s parliament on the third and final day of his stay. In doing so, he fulfilled what was perhaps India’s dearest wish for Obama’s trip here. India has sought permanent Security Council membership for years.
“The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate,” Obama said. “That is why I can say today – in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.”
The announcement brought the loudest applause of Obama’s speech. But it does not mean that India will join the five permanent Security Council members anytime soon. The U.S. is backing India’s membership only in the context of unspecified reforms to the council that could take years to bring about.
That makes Obama’s announcement more of a diplomatic gesture than a concrete step. Nonetheless, it underscores the importance the U.S. places on fostering ties with this nation of 1.2 billion people, something Obama has been seeking to accomplish [during his visit].
Obama said repeatedly throughout his three days in India – first in the financial center of Mumbai and then in the capital of New Delhi – that he views the relationship between the two countries as one of the “defining partnerships” of the 21st century. He set out to prove it by making India the first stop on a four-country tour of Asia, and then through economic announcements, cultural outreach and finally the announcement about the U.N. Security Council.
India has sought permanent council membership as recognition of its surging economic clout and its increased stature in world affairs. The U.S. endorsement is certain to deepen the ties between the two countries and could also send Obama’s popularity in India skyrocketing to a level comparable to that enjoyed by George W. Bush. The former president is seen as a hero here for helping end India’s nuclear isolation.
In another important gesture, Obama went farther than he had previously during his stay in addressing the terror threat inside Pakistan, India’s neighbor and archrival. Obama angered some here when he visited a memorial to victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks but didn’t mention Pakistan, which was home to the attackers.
“We will continue to insist to Pakistan’s leaders that terrorist safe-havens within their borders are unacceptable, and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,” the president said in the address, to loud applause. “We must also recognize that all of us have an interest in both an Afghanistan and a Pakistan that is stable, prosperous and democratic – and none more so than India.”
Indian officials accuse Pakistan’s intelligence service of helping orchestrate the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people and say the country has not done enough to crack down on the Pakistan-based extremists held responsible. Pakistan, meanwhile, views India’s ties with the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan as an effort by its old rival to encircle it.
The president’s announcement on the Security Council brought immediate praise from Indian politicians and diplomats. …..
The five permanent members of the Security Council are the U.S., China, France, the United Kingdom and Russia.
Debate has raged for years over how to change a structure that is widely seen as outdated and it is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. So it’s unclear when India’s drive for permanent membership will ever be realized. But backing it at all is a critically important move from India’s perspective. …..
Throughout his time here, Obama has taken pains to cast his visit as a search for U.S. jobs and benefits to people back home, sensitive to the priorities of U.S. voters who punished the Democratic Party in last week’s midterm elections, in part over high unemployment. He touched on the theme again Monday.
“As global partners we can promote prosperity in both our countries,” Obama said. “Together, we can create the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.”
Earlier Monday, Obama held a joint news conference with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the two leaders affirmed their desire to work together on various fronts. Questioned about Pakistan, Obama answered carefully, encouraging India and Pakistan to move toward peace and saying the U.S. was “happy to play any role the parties think is appropriate.”
Singh said that while he believes a strong, moderate Pakistan is in the interest of India and the wider region, India can’t engage in talks as long as Pakistan’s “terror machine is as active as ever before.” However, he deflected a reporter’s question about whether he would call Pakistan a terrorist state.
Obama’s final day in India began with a grand welcome ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the palatial residence of India’s president. After that, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama placed a wreath at Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mohandas K. Gandhi.
Obama departs early Tuesday for Indonesia, the country where he spent four years as a boy. From there, he heads to South Korea for a meeting of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations, and then to Japan for a gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. He returns to Washington on Nov. 14.
Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Ravi Nessman and Ashok Sharma contributed to this report.
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1. Read the “Background” below the questions on the United Nations Security Council. List the five permanent members of the Security Council.
2. a) What announcement did President Obama make about India and the U.N. Security Council in his speech to India’s parliament on the last day of his stay?
b) Why is this important to India?
3. Why is former President George W. Bush so popular in India?
4. What has President Obama endeavored to portray as the reason for his visit to India?
5. How did President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh respond when questioned about Pakistan’s role in terrorism?
CHALLENGE QUESTION: President Obama has said the aim of his trip to India is to “…create jobs here in the United States.” Not included in this news article are any specifics on these jobs. Do an internet search for details on the types of jobs or benefits Americans will get from the President’s trip. List specifics. Include URL’s for the articles where you found your information.
ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: (read more at the website un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_background.html)
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
- Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
- There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten elected members with two-year terms [these are not eligible for immediate re-election]
- The ten elected members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on January 1st, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African bloc chooses three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asian, and Western European and Others blocs choose two members each; and the Eastern European bloc chooses one member. Also, one of these members is an “Arab country,” alternately from the Asian or African bloc.
- Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.
- Each Council member has one vote.
- Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members.
- Decisions on substantive matters (including imposing sanctions on a country) require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.
- Under the UN Charter, all 191 Member States (countries) of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to make decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.
Under the United Nation’s NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to develop nuclear weapons (except those that had weapons when the treaty was signed). India, Pakistan, North Korea have nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan did not sign on to the NPT. North Korea withdrew from the NPT once it developed nuclear weapons. [Note: Israel is believed to have nuclear weapons, but refuses to officially confirm or deny having a nuclear arsenal, or having developed nuclear weapons, or even having a nuclear weapons program. It has not signed the NPT.]
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