Bush sees Asian as next to fill top UN post
President Bush said the next United Nations secretary-general is expected to come from Asia. U.N. Security Council members will soon start the process of considering candidates to succeed Kofi Annan, whose 10-year term as leader of the world body expires at the end of the year. Annan is from Ghana. "As I understand it, traditionally ... regions rotate, and we're really looking in the Far East right now to be the secretary-general," Bush said in an interview with print reporters with Russia, Japan, Italy and Germany.
"Asia, yes," he said when asked to clarify his answer, though he refused to be more specific or name names. "You'll find that we will work closely with friends and allies to come up with the best candidate, but we won't be committing publicly," Bush added. Asked whether he would be against a Muslim in the post, he said: "Not at all, would not be against a Muslim." "The criterion I'm for is somebody who wants to spread liberty and enhance the peace, do difficult things like confront tyranny, worry about the human condition, blow the whistle on human rights violations," he said.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has said the best possible candidate should fill the post, regardless of region. To date, there are four names in the running for the job. Three have been officially nominated: Deputy Thai Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai; Sri Lankan disarmament specialist and government adviser Jayantha Dhanapala; and Indian novelist Shashi Tharoor, the undersecretary-general for the U.N. Department of Public Information. Seoul has also announced that South Korea's foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, would run for the post though his name has not been formally submitted. Security Council members could start conducting informal polls later this month to get an idea of how much support the individual candidates have, said French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, who presides over the council in July.