Russia says U.N Security Council permanent members must keep veto

Russia wants the existing five permanent members of the U.N Security Council to retain the right of veto if other permanent members are created under a proposed reform of the United Nations, a top diplomat said Wednesday.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed a sweeping reform of the body, which includes expanding the 15-member U.N. Security Council to reflect changes in global realities.

Annan backed two options proposed in December by a high-level panel. One would add six new permanent members and the other would create a new tier of eight semi-permanent members: two each from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

"As for the prerogatives of the current five permanent Security Council members, they should be fully retained," Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said in an interview with the Interfax news agency. "This means above all the right of veto."

Asked if this means that other countries that might become permanent Security Council members should not have the right to veto, Fedotov said: "This issue is controversial, and it would be very hard to reach agreement on it."

"Therefore many U.N member states believe that this decision should not be sped up at the present stage but rather postponed," he said.

Russia, the United States, France, Britain and China have the right of veto as permanent members of the world body's decision-making branch.

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