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Talks on UN Security Council reforms

NEGOTIATIONS among the world's nations on the much disputed issue of expanding the United Nations Security Council from its long-standing membership of 15 states are set to start on February 19, officials said on Friday.

Most countries agree the body, whose composition largely reflects the balance of power shortly after World War II, needs to be enlarged to reflect present-day realities, but there is little agreement on how.

The council, the powerhouse of the United Nations, with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeeping forces, has five permanent veto-holding members ?? the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. It also has 10 members elected on a regional basis who serve two-year terms before being replaced by others. They have no veto. That number was set in 1965, after standing at six since the post-war foundation of the UN.

The start date for the intergovernmental negotiations was announced to an informal General Assembly session on Thursday by assembly president Miguel D'Escoto.

After years of deadlock, D'Escoto's predecessor began a fresh attempt in 2007 to get the negotiations under way. Diplomats said negotiations were expected to be held among experts from the 192 UN member states.


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