US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that America was open to UN reforms to expand the permanent membership of the security council but the key for India to get there would be to “not touch” the issue of veto power that current members are neither willing to share nor give up.
Haley also referred to President Donald Trump’s new South Asia policy and his “tougher approach” towards Pakistan.
“We cannot tolerate its government (Pakistan’s) or any other government giving safe haven to terrorists,” she said, reiterating Trump’s call for India to do more in Afghanistan.
But the UN reforms, Haley said at a discussion hosted by the advocacy group India-US Friendship Council, “is much more about the veto”. The permanent-five who have veto — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China — “none of them wants to give that up”.
The “key to getting India on the Security Council would have to be not touch the veto”, Haley, an Indian American, added, in a rare public discussion of the American position on India’s claim to a permanent UNSC seat, which was first endorsed by former president Barack Obama in a visit to India in 2010.
India has staked a claim to a permanent seat on a reformed UN security council, with all the same powers but along with other members of the G-4 pressure group — Germany, Japan and Brazil — has backed deferred and phased rollout of the veto power, after a transition period of 15 years.
The Trump administration reiterated US support for India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit last June. Vice-president Mike Pence chipped in with his support in a speech to a trade body the next day. And, now the US ambassador to UN, which was the first for her, according to India watchers.
But India has been disappointed by the slow pace of the movement on the issue at the United Nations, as conveyed by officials at the recent UN general assembly meetings, in the context of secretarial and bureaucratic reforms by its leadership and embraced by Trump.
The US was not opposed to the reforms, Haley said in response to a question. Russia and China were.
While Russia has backed India’s claim, it has not been enthusiastic about reforms generally, not taking a position on any of the other claimants. China is the only permanent member not to back India but it has not backed any other country either. Diplomats concede the two countries together did indeed not seem open to reforms.
On the issue of the veto, the US and UK don’t want to let go of it or share it, only France has said it was open to it. Russia remained ambivalent given its support only for India and China hasn’t even gotten past the first block to even begin to consider the question of sharing or giving up the veto.