- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

SEOUL — South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon is running for the top U.N. post, his deputy said this morning, formally announcing a candidacy that has been widely known for months.

Mr. Ban is among several Asian candidates vying to become the successor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose term expires at the end of the year.

“The government of the Republic of Korea has decided to present Mr. Ban Ki-moon, minister of foreign affairs and trade, as a candidate for the post of the next secretary-general of the United Nations,” Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said at a press conference.

Asian countries think the next secretary-general should come from their continent as part of a traditional rotation among regions for the top U.N. job every 10 years. The last Asian to hold the U.N. post was Burma’s U Thant, who served from 1961 to ‘71.

There is wide support for an Asian candidate among the 191 U.N. member states — including permanent Security Council members Russia and China — although Eastern Europe argues that it has never had a leader in the top U.N. post.

The United States, however, is against the tradition. Washington’s U.N. ambassador, John R. Bolton, said last month that Mr. Annan’s successor should be selected without regard to geographic location.

The successful candidate is decided when the U.N. General Assembly endorses a selection made by the Security Council.

A career diplomat, Mr. Ban, 61, has been South Korea’s foreign minister since early 2004.

He has “nearly four decades of extensive experience and an untarnished reputation as a diplomat and administrator, much of it directly relating to issues of peace and security, development and human rights and democracy, the three pillars on which the United Nations stands,” Mr. Yu said.

A U.N.-led force rescued South Korea after it was invaded by North Korean troops in 1950. Mr. Yu noted the special relationship that the South has with the United Nations and also cited the country’s experience in recovering from conflict to build prosperity.

Other announced Asian candidates include Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Jayantha Dhanapala, the former U.N. disarmament chief from Sri Lanka who recently represented the government in peace talks with the Tamil Tigers.

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