South Korea's Ban Seen as Sure to Become Next U.N. Secretary General


This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

South Korean Foreign Minister

is expected to become secretary-general of the United Nations on January first. Mister Ban was the winner this week in unofficial voting by the Security Council. He was the only one who did not receive a vote of opposition from a member with veto power.

Five countries can veto a council vote: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. These are the five permanent members. The council also has ten elected members.

The ballots were secret. But the votes of permanent members were signaled for the first time by a different colored ballot paper.

The council plans to take an official vote on Monday to nominate the next secretary-general. Then the nomination will go to the one hundred ninety-two members of the General Assembly. Traditionally, the General Assembly has approved the nomination of the Security Council.

There were six candidates in the fourth and final unofficial vote. Shashi Tharoor finished second. The Indian writer is the U.N. undersecretary-general for public information. He congratulated Mister Ban and withdrew his candidacy.

The second five-year term of Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana ends on December thirty-first. Ban Ki-moon would be the eighth U.N. secretary-general. He would be the first from Asia since U Thant of Burma. U Thant led the United Nations from nineteen sixty-one to ninety seventy-one.

John Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States was very pleased with the result of the vote. Mister Bolton noted that he and Mister Ban had worked together on the plan that led to U.N. membership for both North and South Korea. Both countries joined the United Nations in nineteen ninety-one.

Ban Ki-moon was born in Chungju in nineteen forty-four. He joined South Korea's foreign service in nineteen seventy after studying international relations at Seoul University.

He says he wanted to be a diplomat ever since he was eighteen, when he met President John Kennedy at the White House. Mister Ban later earned a master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

He became foreign minister of South Korea in January of two thousand four. Earlier he served as chief aide to the president of the U.N. General Assembly. Mister Ban has played a part in the six-nation talks about North Korea's nuclear activity.

He announced his candidacy for secretary-general in February.

Ban Ki-moon is often described as soft-spoken. But he says he takes strength from recent Korean history and the progress Koreans have made since experiencing war.

Major issues that will face the next U.N. chief include the nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea and the violence in Darfur, Sudan.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. Transcripts and audio archives of our reports are on the Web at WWW.51VOA.COM. I'm Steve Ember.