France backs Japan’s UNSC bid; EU evasive


France voiced support Monday for Japan’s quest for permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council, though the European Union as a whole refrained from stating its position clearly on the Japanese bid, Japanese officials said.

On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier before holding a meeting with her EU counterparts.

Kawaguchi and Barnier agreed on the need to increase the number of both permanent and nonpermanent U.N. Security Council members as part of U.N. reform, with the French minister supporting Japan’s bid to obtain a permanent seat on the Security Council, the Japanese officials said.

But two EU foreign ministers and one high-ranking official met by Kawaguchi later said there are various opinions within the EU about U.N. reform and that it is important to strengthen not only the function of the Security Council but also the function of the United Nations as a whole, including the tasks of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, they said.

The three are Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, Jean Asselborn of Luxembourg, which will hold the next presidency, and European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Chris Patten.

Ping backs U.N. reform

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed Monday with Jean Ping, president of the current U.N. General Assembly session, on the importance of speeding up U.N. reform, a Foreign Ministry official said.