Ahern wants China to back Ireland's application for seat on Security Council


During his visit to China this week the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, will ask Beijing leaders to support Ireland's application for membership of the United Nations Security Council for 2001 and 2002, Irish officials confirmed last night.

Mr Ahern arrives in Beijing this afternoon for a five-day official visit to the People's Republic of China, the first by a Taoiseach.

The Government's Gulf Stream-4 jet is due in the Chinese capital at 1.15 p.m., after which the Taoiseach will have talks with the Chinese Prime Minister, Mr Zhu Rongji. He will have a separate meeting with President Jiang Zemin tomorrow. China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, along with the US, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

The Security Council, which can authorise military action and economic boycotts by member-states, includes a small number of countries which take office in rotation. Ireland last had a seat at the time of the Falklands War. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrews, first informed Chinese leaders of Ireland's campaign for membership in 2001 and 2002 during a visit to China six months ago. Mr Ahern, who is travelling with the Minister of State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Tom Kitt, and a 20-member trade delegation, is visiting China at the invitation of Mr Zhu, whom he met during the Second Asia-Europe Summit which took place in London in April.

"I took the opportunity to seek the support of individual ASEM [Asia-Europe Meeting] leaders for Ireland's candidature for one of the non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council in the elections in 2000," the Taoiseach stated at the time.