• Kyodo

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Japan has accepted a request by three U.N. Security Council permanent members to chair the U.N. Sanctions Committee on Iran, U.N. diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

Initially reluctant to assume the 2009 chairmanship of the U.N. committee on Iran’s nuclear program, Japan agreed to take the post at a Security Council meeting on Jan. 6 in response to pressure from the United States, Britain and France, the sources said.

The three Security Council permanent members asked Japan to make a positive commitment when the United Nations deals with sanctions against Iran, the sources said.

This year, no countries bid to chair the sanctions committee on Iran, the sources added.

In January, Japan began serving a two-year term as a nonpermanent member on the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice met with her Japanese counterpart, Yukio Takasu, at the end of January and asked for Japan’s “maximum” support on the Iranian issue.

Japan has had favorable diplomatic ties with Iran and there are some expectations for Japan’s role in the Iranian nuclear issue. Talks between Iran and the five permanent members plus Germany have stalled.

A U.N. sanctions committee is in charge of technical problems involved in the implementation of measures set out in a sanction resolution against a targeted country. As of last month, the UNSC had 11 sanctions committees, including those on North Korea and Lebanon.

UNSC reform talks

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Japanese Ambassador to the U.N. Yukio Takasu indicated Tuesday that the United Nations is likely to begin substantive intergovernmental negotiations in March on a proposed expansion of the Security Council.

“I have a feeling that starting in March, serious negotiations will start,” Takasu told a news conference. He is the rotating president of the 15-member U.N. Security Council for February.

“I hope this momentum will translate into some flexibility for all the parties concerned,” Takasu said.

In late January, the U.N. General Assembly decided to kick off intergovernmental negotiations on U.N. reform on Feb. 19.

Takasu said he believes the groundwork for the negotiations will be laid following the Feb. 19 meeting.

The so-called Group of Four — Japan, India, Brazil and Germany — have called for an early start to the intergovernmental talks on U.N. reform.

The four countries — each seeking a permanent seat on the Security Council — want UNSC reform discussed in such negotiations, believing progress would be quicker because decisions are based on a two-thirds majority, rather than a unanimous agreement.

But the Uniting for Consensus group, including Pakistan, Italy and South Korea, has called for U.N. reform to be discussed at the Open-Ended Working Group, a formal framework for negotiations where decisions must be reached unanimously.

Takasu said Japan is prepared to “enter into serious negotiations as soon as possible.” He added that the current UNSC structure does not reflect the reality of the global community, and that reform is necessary to make it more efficient and appropriate.

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