China attended meet to oppose UNSC expansion

Breaking away from its traditional backstage diplomacy to thwart India's attempts to secure a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC), China went ahead and attended a closed-door meeting of the 'Coffee Club' countries last month to oppose recent efforts by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) president to forge a consensus on UNSC expansion.

According to information available with New Delhi, China attended the meeting chaired by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on September 26 while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in New York and conveyed that it was an "honest partner" of the Coffee Club or Uniting for Consensus (UFC) group of countries.

This flies in the face of Chinese commitment in the joint vision statement issued during Manmohan Singh's bilateral visit to Beijing in January where China had stated: "The Chinese side understands and supports India's aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations, including the Security Council."

The information has taken the Government by surprise even as the Prime Minister reaches Beijing in the next two days to participate in the Asia-Europe Summit meeting. An invitation to this summit after Singh's bilateral visit in January and a more encouraging line on UNSC in the vision statement had diplomats interpreting a certain shift in China's approach.

However, the first surprise came at the Nuclear Suppliers Group where China sought to block the waiver for India and now at the UN where for the first time UNGA president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann from Nicaragua has put

February 29, 2009 as the deadline for inter-governmental negotiations to start. In fact, India and Japan on Wednesday agreed to intensify

efforts of the G4 - Brazil, Germany, India and Japan - to forge a consensus on their expansion model.

The UFC, which now has over a dozen countries, also includes Argentina, Egypt, Turkey and Costa Rica besides Pakistan. At the September meeting, the details of which are now with India, a representative of the Chinese Permanent Mission in New York assured Beijing's support and conveyed that it will work the diplomatic channels to coordinate with US and Russia for this purpose.

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