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Bush says open to expanding U.N. Security Council

U.S. President George W. Bush addresses the 62nd United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2007. REUTERS/Chip East

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Tuesday he was willing to consider expanding the U.N. Security Council and pressed for Japan, a close American ally, to get a permanent seat on the panel.

“The United States is open to this prospect,” Bush said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. “We believe that Japan is well-qualified for permanent membership on the Security Council and that other nations should be considered as well.”

The 15-member Security Council, the most powerful U.N. body which can make mandatory decisions on war and peace, has five veto-bearing permanent members named when the United Nations was created in 1945.

The permanent members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. Ten other countries rotate for two-year terms according to regions.

A majority of U.N. members believe the Security Council is unrepresentative and dominated by industrial nations.

The United States for years has backed Japan for a spot but does not want the council expanded by more than a few seats.

However, advocating a place for Japan without including any developing nations, such as India, would be rejected by U.N. members, including those on the current Security Council.

“The United States will listen to all good ideas and we will support changes to the Security Council as part of broader U.N. reform,” Bush said.

An April U.N. report proposed a series of options for transitional reform that could include adding temporary seats, semi-permanent seats and other variations short of a permanent set-up.