Tuesday, March 7, 2006

China: Next UN Chief Should Be From Asia.

The next secretary general of the United Nations replacing Kofi Annan gains momentum, China’s Ambassador Wang Guangya to the UN said Beijing would support a candidate from Asia.

Wang Guangya said the coming term should be an Asian term and a large number of UN members, including the Asian group, African group, Latin group and countries from Western Europe, endorsed the call.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has “supports a candidate from Asia”.

“The Asians have not had a secretary-general since U. Thant of Burma is of tremendous importance to China, and China will make sure it happens.” Beijing fully subscribed to the principle of geographical rotation — and that it was Asia’s turn to field a candidate.

But the US is open to a candidacy by East European nations, because they have not had any one from that region.”

On Thursday, the 53-member African Group at the UN, the second largest regional group after Asia, formally expressed its collective support for an Asian as the next secretary-general of the world body. In a letter to the 54-member Asian Group, Ambassador Joe Robert Pemagbi of Sierra Leone, chairman of the African Group, says his Group has decided, “to support the request that the next UN secretary-general be selected from an Asian country”.

The African Group’s decision “is consistent with the longstanding principle of reciprocity and understanding which exists between the two groups”, the letter said.

So far, the three officially declared Asian candidates are Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, a former UN under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs; Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai; and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.

Another potential candidate is East Timorese Foreign Minister and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, who admits he is weighing the possibility of running for the job, which falls vacant at the end of this year.

“Asian people haven’t taken the important post for 35 years, and Asia is the most populous continent,” says Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry. “We think the next secretary-general should be picked from Asian nations.” Secondly, Asia, with over two billion people, should not have any problems coming up with a strong candidate to head the world.

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