New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS): With India set to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with strong endorsement from 187 countries, the country has now become a "strong contender" for the coveted permanent membership of the world body, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said here on Wednesday.
At an interaction with editors, Krishna said it was gratifying to see that a "large number of nations" supported India - 187 countries out of 192 when it needed only 128 or two-third votes - and wanted to see it occupy the "high table" of the comity of nations.
He said the vote marked a "decisive stage" in New Delhi's quest for permanent membership in a "new look" UN that many countries have been seeking to reflect the changing world.
India will on Jan 1, 2011 become one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC, a group that rotates every two years. Other non-permanent members elected Tuesday were Germany, South Africa, Colombia and Portugal.
The five permanent members with veto powers on major decisions taken by the global body are the US, Russia, Britain, France and China.
Krishna said the position enjoined on India a "new-found responsibility" but said the country's "shoulders were broad enough" to take on this and even larger responsibilities that would involve it playing a larger role in the region and the world.
Present at the interaction by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and senior officials.
Krishna dismissed reports about any quid pro quo with the US on New Delhi getting Washington's backing for permanent membership in return for concessions on Jammu and Kashmir to satisfy Pakistani urges.
He described the reports as "kites being flown" ahead of President Barack Obama's visit here next month.
He said India would continue to seek US support on becoming a permanent UN member, and it would come up presumably on the agenda of discussions between Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
His remarks came as Washington said it was aware that like India "there are a number of countries in the world that have those same aspirations.
"We are well aware of India's aspirations to play a more significant global role," State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters Tuesday. "We have welcomed that expanded role by India both on regional issues and global issues."
Although the way Pakistan voted on Tuesday would not be known in a secret ballot, Krishna said India sought Islamabad's support at his meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York. He said that from all accounts, Islamabad seemed to have extended its backing to India.