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  National
S. Korean Foreign Minister
Ban Ki-Moon Cements Hold on Top UN Post
Mr. Ban Sure to Succeed Annan as UN Sec. Gen.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon

South Korea's foreign minister cemented his position as the near-certain successor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Oct. 2, the only one of six candidates to escape a veto in an informal Security Council ballot.

The Security Council was expected to hold a formal vote to pick the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year history on Oct. 9, making Ban Ki-Moon's appointment almost assured. The 192-nation General Assembly must approve the council's recommendation, and traditionally does so without protest.

"It is quite clear that from today's straw poll that Minister Ban Ki-Moon is the candidate that the Security Council will recommend to the General Assembly," China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said.

While the informal poll is nonbinding and the results could change, diplomats and candidates left little doubt that Ban would win. Soon after the results became known, India's Shashi Tharoor, the U.N. undersecretary-general for public information, announced he was leaving the race even though he placed second to Ban in all four of the informal polls.

"It is clear that he will be our next secretary-general," Tharoor said.

If Ban does indeed win the race, his selection will have been marked by unprecedented speed, consensus and calm. In the past, U.N. chiefs have often been elected as time runs out, after heated negotiations and numerous rounds of voting.

Annan himself was a compromise candidate in 1996 who emerged late and only after the United States blocked Boutros Boutros-Ghali's bid for a second term. Annan's example also shows how unpredictable the process can be: during informal polling at the time, France consistently vetoed him before changing its vote at the last minute.

In Monday's poll, the 15 council nations checked one of three boxes for each candidate in the secret ballot: "Encourage," "discourage," and "no opinion." For the first time, the five permanent members of the council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — were given blue ballots to show the candidates if they could escape a veto.

According to the results, Ban received 14 votes in favor and a white "no opinion" ballot cast by one of the 10 rotating members of the council. Every other candidate received at least one no vote from a veto-wielding member.

Tharoor received 10 favorable votes and three against. One of those negative votes was a veto. Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga was next with five in favor, six against — including two vetoes — and four undecided votes.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, who was the first to announce his candidacy last year, and former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani each received four votes in favor. But Ghani had 11 votes against him including three vetoes, and Surakiart had seven no-votes, among them two vetoes.

The last candidate, Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein, had only two votes in favor and eight against, with one veto.

Bolton said the council would meet on Oct. 9 to hold its formal vote, while Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, president of the Security Council for October, said that was the likely date.

Bolton said he'd wanted the vote by the end of the week, but agreed to delay so candidates could decide to drop out and new ones could come forward.

But the council wants the process finished by the end of October, and Bolton suggested there wasn't enough time.

"New candidates still have the option of coming forward, but we've been waiting for new candidates and I don't know of any, there's no speculation of any," Bolton said. "I'd be surprised if new candidates came forward." (Associated Press)

Ban Ki-moon well-versed in UN affairs

New York (Yonhap) — Ban Ki-moon, who is likely to become the next secretary-general of the United Nations, is a veteran diplomat with 36 years of service.

Ban has served as South Korea's minister of foreign affairs and trade since Jan. 2004, making him one of the longest-serving foreign ministers in South Korean history.

He was foreign policy advisor to President Roh Moo-hyun for a year from 2003.

The 62-year-old official has extensive experience in the United Nations.

He led the Cabinet of the President of the 56th General Assembly of the United Nations for two years from 2001 while acting as South Korea's Ambassador to the 191-member nation organization.

He served as First Secretary on South Korea's permanent observer mission to the U.N. in New York from 1978 to 1980, and was director of the U.N. division at Seoul's foreign ministry from 1980 to 1983.

Ban, who majored in international relations at Seoul National University, also studied public administration at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Born in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, Ban is fluent in both English and French.




 

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