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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Japan hopes to sell 'G4' plan to African Union

Staff writer

Japan will try to work with the African Union to draft a joint resolution on United Nations reform that mirrors the goal of the so-called Group of Four in expanding the Security Council, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Tuesday.

The two sides "are not aiming for different goals," Machimura told reporters. "It is possible to adjust the content of the resolution."

African Union foreign ministers agreed Sunday in Libya to map out a resolution to allocate two permanent seats with veto power and five rotating seats to African nations in the Security Council.

At issue is whether the 53-member African Union will revise the accord before it is adopted at their Tuesday summit so it will be more in line with a revised resolution drafted last month by Japan Germany, Brazil and India — the "Group of Four" aspiring to become permanent UNSC members.

The group's resolution would add six permanent seats and four rotating members to the council. Japanese officials said two of the six new permanent seats should go to African countries.

New permanent members will maintain a "freeze" on veto power for 15 years, the resolution says.

Japan and its three cohorts are eager to join forces with 53 African nations, which hold about one-fourth of the votes in the U.N. — to gain the necessary support to get their resolution adopted in the General Assembly.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials are now in Libya to lobby African Union members in an effort to coordinate the Group of Four's resolution with that of the African Union.

But it is still unclear if the two sides can strike a compromise. One of the reasons is that there are divergent views within the African Union on U.N. reform.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said the four nations plan to submit the resolution next week, giving them about a week to draft a joint resolution with the African Union.

But even after the group submits the resolution to the General Assembly, there is still a possibility that it will be later revised to woo the two-thirds majority, or 128 votes, needed to clear the General Assembly, another ministry official said.

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The Japan Times

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