Subject: LUSA: FM Ramos Horta 'touched" by Lisbon's support for possible top UN bid

East Timor: FM Ramos Horta 'touched" by Lisbon's support for possible top UN bid

Dili, Feb. 10 (Lusa) - East Timor's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta, reaffirmed Friday that he was not yet a candidate to replace Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations, but he said he was "touched" by Portugal's expression of support.

In comments to Lusa, Ramos Horta underlined that, if it was Asia's turn to take the UN helm, China's position on the matter would be "fundamental and decisive".

"I await the evolution (of things), but I take note of the incentives of various governments and friends for me to become a candidate", the Nobel Peace laureate said.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said Thursday in an interview that Lisbon would be "on the frontline of support" for Ramos Horta if a consensus arose around him within the UN.

The UN had already asked for Portugal's opinion of Ramos Horta as a candidate, said Freitas do Amaral, a former UN General Assembly president.

Ramos Horta told Lusa Portugal's backing was a "natural gesture" because of Lisbon's "strong relations" with Dili, his "intimate friendship" with Portuguese leaders and the agreement between members of the eight-nation Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) to back each other's bids in international forums.

The Timorese diplomat reiterated that he was not yet a candidate for the top UN post but added that he had learned "never to say never" in politics.

Ramos Horta is reportedly one of five Asian leaders on a shortlist of possible candidates.



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