Major calls for UN to put its house in order

Bangkok summit: EU states duck rights issues to avoid a damaging rift with world's strongest economies



John Major made a plea for rapid reform in the United Nations yesterday at the EU-Asia economic summit, as most European leaders agreed to avoid confrontation with China and South-East- Asian economic powers over human rights.

Mr Major pressed the case for streamlining the UN and putting it on a firm financial footing following estimates that it could "run out of money in November". The Prime Minister said it would be "ludicrous" for the UN to go bust and warned it "must not be allowed to grind to a halt".

He urged Asian countries to back EU proposals for tough penalties on non-payers, to accelerate the payment of arrears and reform contributions to take account of the relative wealth of members.

Mr Major, who won strong support from Thailand for his call for UN reforms, will today call for the liberalisation of Asian markets.

The threat of a walk-out by Indonesia, led by President Suharto, if Portugal used the summit to resume attacks on human rights abuses in East Timor was averted when the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Guterres, talked informally to the Mr Suharto in the fringes of the summit. The Portuguese leader suggested a resumption of diplomatic contacts between the two countries, which elicited a non-committal response from Mr Suharto.

The Europeans' desire to avoid conflict over human rights reflects the importance attached by the EU to expanding trade relations with the fastest growing economies in the world. Mr Major has repeatedly pointed out that the countries at the summit account for more than half the world's Gross Domestic Product.

Jacques Santer, the EU Commission President, made a plea for Asian countries to accept that the Single European Market "has greatly improved the opportunities for third countries to do business in the European Union".

In a thinly disguised appeal to Asian countries to lower barriers against EU exports, he pointed out that 40 per cent of imports of manufactured goods would be duty-free, while tariffs on other products would be cut by a third in the next decade.

Leon Brittan, the EU Trade Commissioner, has been active pressing Asian countries to open up their vast telecommunications markets, to secure a worldwide liberalisation agreement by the April deadline set by the World Trade Organisation. An aide to Sir Leon admitted they failed to draw a clear response and added: "We are into the last five weeks so it is a very urgent process."

In meetings with the Chinese government, Sir Leon pressed for the level of liberalisation that would enable China to qualify for WTO membership. Sir Leon told the Prime Minister, Li Peng, that China needed to end the monopoly of state organisations running import and export businesses, reduce tariffs and liberalise the car industry. He said if Peking took such steps the EU would back its membership of WTO.

Sir Leon urged Peking to stop restricting the free flow of economic information through overseas news agencies, saying it violated the WTO principles.

He also pressed Li Peng to accept Hong Kong's continued importance as an entrepreneurial centre, and was assured its "capitalism" would survive the handover to China.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album