US launches discussion on next UN secretary-general

The US ambassador has opened Security Council discussions in New York on the next UN secretary-general, calling the choice of a replacement for Kofi Annan probably the most important decision the world body will make this year.

US Ambassador John Bolton, the council’s president this month, called a meeting of the five veto-wielding permanent members “to get a sense of where the council is, so that we can begin to move forward on the issue”.

Annan’s second five-year term ends on December 31 and his successor must be approved by the General Assembly based on a recommendation from the council.

At the moment, the permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – are divided on the issue.

“We believe, with more than two billion people, Asia can definitely provide the best-qualified candidates,” said China’s UN Ambassador Wang Guangya.

But Bolton reiterated Washington’s strong opposition to the principle of geographic rotation, a view backed by Britain.

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