- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday refused to endorse Germany’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, saying the United States supports only Japan’s bid for the time being.

Miss Rice’s public position, which she expressed after a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, reflected what U.S. officials described privately as Washington’s reluctance to have three West European countries as permanent council members.

Britain and France, which already occupy permanent seats, are not likely to relinquish them, diplomats said.

“The only country that we have said unequivocally that we support is Japan, having to do with Japan’s special role in the U.N. and support for the U.N.,” Miss Rice told reporters.

Still, she said, “we are going to look at how to think about U.N. Security Council expansion within the context of these broader reforms, and we’ve made no determination or decision beyond the one that I’ve just enunciated.”

Berlin’s campaign to become a permanent member of the Security Council has generated intense discussion in Europe, where some advocate an eventual seat for the European Union. The question is whether that seat would be in addition to Britain’s and France’s or whether one or both of them would have to step down.

Germany’s opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has criticized Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s aggressive lobbying, although party leaders say they would accept a seat if it were offered to them.

“The campaign created mistrust in Europe and split the EU partners,” said Wolfgang Schaeuble, deputy chairman of the CDU’s parliamentary group who is in charge of foreign policy. “Our interest is to strengthen the common European foreign policy. The campaign does the contrary.”

Guido Westerwelle, chairman of the Free Democratic Party, the CDU’s junior partner, said, “The most prudent solution would be a European seat.”

Germany yesterday joined Japan and two other candidates for permanent Security Council membership, Brazil and India, as they agreed not to seek veto power for at least 15 years if accepted.

In New York, the four countries circulated a revision of their May 16 draft resolution that would expand the council from 15 to 25 members.

The text proposes six new permanent seats, including two for Africa, and four rotating seats.

“On the veto, it has become clear that the question of its extension to the new permanent members is best dealt with by the general membership” in a review 15 years after the measure is approved, said a cover letter to the new version.

Currently, the council has five permanent veto-holding members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — and 10 rotating members.

The Security Council’s expansion must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the 191-member U.N. General Assembly.

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