U.N. to Appoint Ban As Secretary-General

The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 11, 2006; 8:45 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- The General Assembly will appoint South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as the next U.N. secretary-general on Friday, giving him a 2 1/2-month transition before taking over from Kofi Annan on Jan. 1.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the assembly president, set the appointment of the new secretary-general for Friday afternoon, assembly spokeswoman Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte said late Wednesday.

"The General Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution, hopefully by acclamation, appointing Mr. Ban Ki-moon as the next secretary-general of the United Nations," Sainte said. "We expect him to take the oath of office as soon as he is officially appointed but he doesn't take office until Jan. 1."

Ban's appointment comes at a sensitive time with the United States pressing for strong sanctions against Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and is backing a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur to take over from the African Union.

The Security Council nominated Ban by acclamation Monday and asked the 192-member General Assembly to act promptly to approve his selection.

Ban was one of seven candidates vying to be the new U.N. chief and topped four informal polls in the 15-member council. One candidate dropped out after a poor showing in the third round and the others dropped out after his front-runner status was confirmed in the fourth round.

Ban held a series of meetings on Wednesday _ with Annan, ambassadors from all the Asian nations, and U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. He was scheduled to meet Thursday with members of the Nonaligned Movement and the Group of 77, the two major organizations representing developing countries.

"He's coming to see us little people," quipped South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo. "I think the big challenge, of course, will be dealing with the big powers, but for the work here, it will work. ... We know him. We worked with him. He's a very good guy."

Ban told reporters he was very encouraged by the warm support from the Asian Group.

"I'm very much committed to work in my capacity as the secretary-general for the advancement of this great organization, the United Nations," he said.

Ban said he would have three priorities as secretary-general.

His first priority is the make the U.N. "more efficient and effective and relevant" in meeting the challenges of the 21st century, he said.

Secondly, he said, "I (will) try my utmost efforts to bring the trust and confidence among member states."

Ban said his third priority is to use the U.N.'s limited resources and manpower more effectively and try to reduce "the redundancies and overlappings" in the "overstretched" organization.

Burns said the United States was "a very strong supporter" of the new secretary-general.

"We think he's going to be an outstanding secretary-general of the U.N.," he said.

Ban, 62, would be the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year history, overseeing an organization with some 92,000 peacekeepers around the world and a $5 billion annual budget. The world body's mandate, however, is much broader than peace and security issues and includes fighting hunger, helping refugees, slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS and promoting education, development and human rights.

By tradition, most countries agree that the next secretary-general should come from Asia because of a tradition that the post rotate among the regions of the world. The last Asian secretary-general was Burma's U Thant, who served from 1961-71.

Ban has been South Korea's foreign minister for over 2 1/2 years and served as national security adviser to two presidents _ jobs that focused on relations with the North.

© 2006 The Associated Press