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Deiss makes Security Council reform his priority

United Nations General Assembly President Joseph Deiss has said he will tackle reforms in the Security Council in the year ahead.

Deiss, a former Swiss foreign minister, told the Associated Press he wanted serious negotiations to start and will discuss the matter next month at the African Union summit.

In so doing, Deiss has added his voice to President Barack Obama's call for a major shake-up at the top level of the organisation.

Deiss, who took up his one-year General Assembly presidency in September, said "it would really be spectacular" if he could succeed in doing what others have failed to do for nearly two decades. "I will be happy if I'm able to bring people around the table – that they really negotiate," he said.

The UN began talking about expanding the council in 1979. Deiss is looking at ways of fulfilling the 192-nation assembly's mandate to reshape the council. But, in his role as assembly president, he is stopping short of backing any specific plan.

There is a general consensus that the 15-nation council should reflect modern times, but there is diplomatic gridlock over how to spread the power held by veto-wielding members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The Security Council's power stems from its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It can authorise military action and impose sanctions, so membership is coveted. and agencies

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