Nigeria was willing to back down on the African demand that its two permanent seats in the Security Council should have veto power, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.


It would also accept a total of four rather than five non-permanent seats for Africa in the council, he said, adding that the intention was to boost its own chances of gaining a permanent seat.


Nigeria's actions came during a meeting in London, which it chaired, to hammer out a common African position.


The oil-producing state "tried to subjugate the African position to narrow interests in a way which does not reflect the required transparency in dealings between African states", Gheit said.

Three contenders

"It would abandon the fifth seat to another continent while working for its direct interest, imagining that it would thus have a better chance of obtaining a permanent seat," the minister added.


Nigeria and Egypt, along with South Africa, are the main contenders for the two permanent African seats.


"If the Nigerian approach continues, it will lead to a fracture in the African position ... .The consequences of that would be grave"

Ahmed Aboul Gheit,
Egyptian foreign minister

African officials were meeting in London to prepare for a meeting with foreign ministers from the Group of Four - Brazil, Germany, Japan and India, which are contenders for some of the new permanent seats.


The G4 needs African support for their own plan, which is slightly different from the plan adopted by Africa.



Aboul Gheit's remarks brought to the surface a dispute brewing for some weeks between the two big African countries.


He said the Nigerian position had caused a crisis between the African representatives at the London meeting. "Many African countries opposed this Nigerian approach," he added.


While Nigeria had said the meeting reached consensus, the Egyptian delegate, Assistant Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, publicly denied that, he added.


"If the Nigerian approach continues, it will lead to a fracture in the African position...The consequences of that would be grave," he added.