Subject: LUSA: Ramos Horta in US to discuss his UNSG candidacy, future mission

01-03-2006 22:20:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-7784100 Temas:

East Timor: Ramos Horta in US to discuss his UNSG candidacy, future mission

Washington, March 1 (Lusa) - East Timor`s foreign minister held talks Wednesday with members of the United States Congress on a future United Nations mission in his country, as well as his possible candidature to replace Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General at the end of the year, VOA radio reported.

José Ramos Horta, who has not ruled out the possibility of running for the UN's top job, had held talks Tuesday with White House officials on the upcoming contest to choose a successor to Annan, standing down Dec. 31.

"I am reflecting on the possibility of being a candidate", Ramos Horta said in an interview with VOA.

"I am listening to friends in Congress, I will continue consultations in New York, Lisbon and Paris", said the former Nobel Peace Prize winner, adding that he would decide on whether to enter the leadership contest by May.

Despite not having announced he would seek the UN's top post, Ramos Horta told VOA he would not have "any hesitation in assuming the responsibility of secretary-general of the UN".

"I know the UN very well. Its weaknesses and limitations, but also its enormous potential and the very important world role".

"My concern has more to do with the responsibilities that are imposed on me as a Timorese, and this is connected with the situation in Timor", he added.

Ramos Horta had traveled to the US to lobby for an extended UN presence in Timor after the scheduled withdrawal of the UNOTIL mission on May 20.

Kofi Annan has already proposed that the UN appoints a "resident coordinator" in Timor after the UNOTIL pullout to coordinate a gradual handover of responsibility to Dili for coordination of foreign aid to the new nation.

After a UN Security Council meeting in January, many diplomats argued that aid to Timor should in future by coordinated by the UN Development Program.

The Dili government backs Annan's proposals for a continued presence of UN officials in Dili, said Ramos Horta, which include a special political bureau to oversee general elections next year.

The race to find Kofi Annan's successor has already kicked off, with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon already announcing his candidacy in a field expected to contain other Asian contenders such as Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka.

UN tradition calls for rotation of the post and many nations argue that as Asia has not had a secretary-general since 1971, the continent should supply Annan's replacement.

Ramos Horta has been identified as a "dark horse" candidate from Asia by a number of political analysts, including ex-US diplomat Richard Holbrooke who noted that Timor's relatively small size and population could count against his successful candidacy.

JP/CJB.

Lusa

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