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Restore democracy now, Annan urges Nepal

Friday 29 April 2005, by BARUAH*Amit

"Security Council expansion should not be held up over veto issue"

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Sandeep Saxena
MAKING A POINT: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday called for immediate restoration of democracy in Nepal.It was important that political parties were allowed to function in Nepal, he said. He met King Gyanendra recently in Jakarta.

Asked what he felt about countries supplying arms to Nepal, Mr. Annan said a judgment had to be made by an individual nation. In general terms, the Secretary-General said the U.N. discouraged arms transfer to countries such as Nepal as it could exacerbate the situation.

Addressing a press conference here at the end of his India visit, Mr. Annan said the U.N. would send a human rights’ team to Nepal to assess the situation there. It was also in touch with Nepal’s neighbours, including India.

Asked whether the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan should be retained given the peace moves between New Delhi and Islamabad, he said the role of the observers would have to be discussed with the two parties.

Removing veto `utopian’

On U.N. reforms, Mr. Annan was categorical that additional permanent members in the Security Council would not have the veto, nor would the existing permanent members be willing to give it up.

The important thing was for developing countries to have effective representation in the Council. "It would be utopian to think in terms of removing the veto." The expansion of the Council should not be held up for the reason the veto for the existing members was to be retained. While the two proposals for Security Council reform did not envisage the veto power, member-states were free to amend them.

At a previous question-answer session, Mr. Annan said he did not know whether the proposed two-tier status of permanent members could be called a caste system.

`Cannot take a stand’

As Secretary-General, he could not take a position on either of the proposals - one for additional permanent members and the other for expansion only in the non-permanent category. Neither could be express a view on individual candidates, including India.

At his press conference, the Secretary-General said peace was gradually dawning on the region, taking specific note of the strategic partnership announced by India and China earlier this month.

This would not only have an uplifting impact on the region but also a salutary effect on other parts as well.

Earlier, in a public lecture, Mr. Annan urged India to become a party to the convention against nuclear terrorism and sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It would help non-proliferation efforts if India signed the CTBT.

Oil-for-food scam

On whether the recent oil-for-food scam cast a shadow on the U.N., given the role of his son, Mr. Annan said a final report from the investigators was expected in June. Management lapses were being corrected. But the criticism went beyond "reasonableness."

Mr. Annan recited a French proverb, "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on". In the next 18 months,he had a heavy agenda - with the war on poverty at the centre.

Asked whether a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations was possible, he said three key European powers were discussing the nuclear issue with Teheran. It would be unwise to take "physical action" against Iran.

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