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NEW DELHI, Dec 4: Russia said on Saturday India should become a veto-wielding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council if the UN's top decision-making body is enlarged to reflect post-Cold War realities.

President Vladimir Putin gave the assurance after Indian newspapers interpreted comments he made on Friday as saying India should not be given veto powers.

Mr Putin said permanent members of the UN's top body should either all have a veto, or none of them should have it.

"I am convinced that permanent seats on the Security Council should have veto power, otherwise it would be a one-sided reform of the UN," he told reporters.

"If we agree that future permanent members of the Security Council should have no veto, the next step would not be giving these countries veto power but rather abolishing the veto."

But the Kremlin chief warned that scrapping the veto - often used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War - risked weakening the Council's effectiveness.

"The loss of this instrument for the United Nations would mean a loss of credibility of this organization in the world," he said on a visit to a joint Indian-Russian missile project.

Local newspapers led their Saturday editions with Putin's Friday comments on India's Security Council bid, a hot topic in the world's largest democracy after a UN working group released a reform blueprint this week.

India has joined Germany, Japan and Brazil lobbying for seats at the UN's top table. Russia is one of the five World War Two victors who are permanent Council members.

A decision on the shape of the reform is scheduled for the UN's 60th-anniversary meeting next September. To take effect, the reforms would require a two-thirds majority of the UN's 191 members and no veto from existing permanent members.

EFFECTIVENESS: Putin backed India as Russia's "No 1" candidate to become a permanent Security Council member after talks on Friday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but was unclear on India's call for veto power.

"We believe it would be absolutely unacceptable to erode the tools of the UN Security Council," he said on Friday. "Otherwise the UN would lose its weight and become some kind of discussion club like the League of Nations."

The Times of India's reaction was typical: "Putin vetoes India entry into UN Tier-1" read its front page headline.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said it had all been a misunderstanding, issuing a statement saying Mr Putin had categorically rejected the newspapers' version of his remarks.

"He said that he had emphasised the need of retaining the instrument of veto as a means of ensuring the effectiveness of the UN Security Council," the statement said.

"In extending full support to India's candidature, he felt that India as a new member should have the full rights of permanent members, including the right of veto," it added.

MISSILE COMPLEX: Mr Putin on Saturday inaugurated a joint Indian-Russian military and technology hardware venture in New Delhi.

The joint venture complex will manufacture the supersonic anti- ship BrahMos cruise missile under an agreement inked between the two countries in 1998.

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia's Federal State Unitary Enterprise, NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), are partners in the company.-Reuters/dpa