A breakthrough in reforming the United Nations Security Council could be achieved by the end of the year as momentum mounts among members of the international body, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said May 13.

Reforming the Security Council has been under discussion for more than three years and accelerated after a concrete proposal was released in March, Annan told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club. Annan, a career U.N. diplomat from Ghana, is making his first visit to Japan as the top U.N. official since succeeding Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt on January 1.

Razali Ismail of Malaysia, who is the president of the U.N. General Assembly, presented a resolution that would enlarge the Security Council by allowing Japan and Germany to become permanent members without veto power. Modifications to the proposal are currently being discussed to gain a consensus among the body’s members.

Annan said that almost all of the members agree on the necessity to reform the Security Council because the decision-making body has become outdated. He said that the Security Council’s current composition reflects the world of 1945 and not the economic and political reality of the 1990s.

Japan is currently serving as a nonpermanent member for the 1997-1998 period. It has been seeking to become a permanent member. Annan said that an expansion of the council should not be too large so that it can remain effective and properly represent the voices of developing countries.

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