New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) President Barack Obama today announced support for India's quest for permanent membership of a "reformed" UN Security Council (UNSC) "in the years ahead", as he wrapped up his three-day state visit.
His widely-awaited endorsement of India joining the elite club of five permanent members of the UNSC came in the course of 35-minute address to members of both Houses of Parliament and was greeted with thunderous thumping of desks.
The announcement is seen as a diplomatic gesture although it was clear that the reform of the Security Council is going to be a long and tedious process. With that in mind, Obama pointedly used the expression "in the years ahead".
Addressing the gathering that included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Cabinet Ministers and Sonia Gandhi, Obama said that as two global leaders, the US and India can partner for global security, especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years.
'Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. That is why I can say today in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member," he said.
Among the MPs present were those belonging to Left parties, whose threat of boycott had led to cancellation of such an address by Obama's predecessor George W Bush in 2006.
The US has so far been reticent in expressing support for India's candidature while other permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, France and Britain -- have been forthcoming. China, the fifth permanent member, is still non-committal.
Obama's support was accompanied by a set of suggestions to India that it must take positions on issues, like human rights violations in Myanmar, saying it has "shied away" so far.
Now, let me suggest that with increased power comes increased responsibility. The UN exists to fulfill its founding ideals of preserving peace and security, promoting global cooperation and advancing human rights.