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Competition for UN Secretary General post

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  • Competition for UN Secretary General post

    Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he was being approached to throw his hat in the ring for the post of UN secretary-general, but he had yet to decide on running.

    Anwar said foreign ministers and leaders had asked him in the past three months whether he would vie for the hotly contested post, which is expected to go to an Asian diplomat.

    "Yes, there have been approaches and a series of discussions by many quarters, but I have not given any clear indication," he said in a telephone interview.

    The veteran politician said talks with leaders had been private and informal, with people sounding out his ideas about the post.

    "People do ask. Even here and overseas, people do ask. Even governments, foreign ministers, heads of government have raised this, but my answer remains consistent. Firstly, it's premature, and number two, I've not given any serious thought to that," he said.

    "Most of these questions are exploring, trying to explore the possibility," he added, declining to reveal which leaders had raised the idea with him.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will step down at the end of the year when his second five-year term expires, and has said most nations believe his successor should come from Asia.

    Asian countries have intensified campaigning in recent weeks, and top contenders include Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Sri Lanka's Jayantha Dhanapala, a presidential adviser, and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.

    Ramping up the heat, India also made a bid this month, putting forward Shashi Tharoor, an undersecretary at the United Nations.

    Other candidates include East Timor's Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta and Latvian President Vike Frieberga, while outside chances include Burma's detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is being touted by pro-democracy activists.

    Anwar, 58, was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 by then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and jailed after convictions for sodomy and corruption.

    He was released in September 2004 when his sodomy conviction was overturned, spending a year afterwards as an academic in the US and Britain, and on the international lecture circuit.

    He returned to full-time political life in Malaysia in May, building up the opposition party Keadilan and retaining a position as visiting professor with Georgetown University in the US.

    Anwar's candidature has been swirling around diplomatic circles in Malaysia, but he said he had yet to even discuss the post with his family.

    "There are many qualified candidates and I'm just looking at that," said Anwar.

    "Right now I'm committed by my work with accountability and to Georgetown University and meeting up with friends here in Malaysia," he added.

    The new secretary-general is nominated by the UN Security Council, with its five permanent members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, playing a crucial role in the decision.

    The nomination then would have to be confirmed by the whole 191-nation UN General Assembly.


  • #2
    US President George W Bush said the next United Nations secretary-general is expected to come from Asia.

    UN 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.

    US 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 UN 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.

    Bush sees Asian as next to fill top UN post


    • #3
      The United Nations security council is struggling to agree on a high-profile successor to Kofi Annan, the secretary general, who will step down at the end of the year. With time running out and after months of lobbying and inconclusive consultations, the council is due to restart the selection process with a vote on Thursday.

      Choosing a strong secretary general who enjoys broad support is crucial for the future of the UN, whose reputation has been battered by the Iraq war, the failure of peacekeeping operations and a US-inspired campaign to undermine Mr Annan.

      There are five men in the running at present - although more candidates are expected to emerge - of whom Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan has emerged as one of the favourites, according to diplomats based at the UN and in western capitals. "Everyone likes him. He is young, appealing, knows the [UN] system but is not part of it. That is crucial because the Americans said they do not want another insider," a diplomat close to the race said yesterday.

      Prince Zeid has played up this advantage, telling Associated Press: "We believe there is considerable scope to be given by the security council and the general assembly to a Muslim candidate who is familiar with the UN but not of the UN."

      He is reported to have the backing of John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, and the UK government, which has indicated it is likely to support him.

      Other frontrunners are Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean foreign minister, and Shashi Tharoor, a UN under-secretary of state, from India.

      Although the US and Britain do not normally field candidates, there is potentially a wild card in the contest: the Fijian foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, has recommended a British Conservative Euro-MP, Nirj Deva. But diplomats at the UN say the Euro MP, who has joint British-Sri Lankan citizenship, has no chance of winning. A western diplomat said: "I cannot imagine this is going to prosper."

      The contest, which could last weeks, is being seen by many as more transparent than in the past. All declared candidates could be on parade at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, near the UN, on September 26.

      On Thursday, the 15-member security council will hold a straw poll of the five declared candidates. The permanent members will indicate either "encouragement" or "discouragement" of a candidate. Colour coded ballots will be used: red for the five permanent members, who carry more weight because of their veto, and white for the others.

      If a candidate receives a lot of "discouragements", he is expected to drop out. When a candidate with sufficient support eventually emerges, his name will go forward to the 191-member general assembly, where election is normally a formality. Past winners have not necessarily been evident in the early rounds but have emerged later in the contest.

      A tradition has developed of regional rotation, with the successful candidate this time supposedly Asian. Although Jordan is in the Middle East, it is part of the Asian bloc at the UN. Prince Zeid, Jordan's ambassador to the UN and a cousin of the monarch, King Abdullah, is liked by Britain because of the part he played as a political officer in the UN peacekeeping force. He is also president of the governing body of the international criminal court.

      In an earlier straw poll, in which Prince Zeid did not take part, the South Korean foreign minister came out on top, with Mr Tharoor in second place. In third and fourth places were the Thai deputy prime minister, Surakiart Sathirathai, with seven, and a Sri Lankan diplomat, Jayantha Dhanapala, with five.

      Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary general, who will leave with Mr Annan, told the Guardian earlier this year: "What I would say is that the smart money remains overwhelmingly on an Asian."


      Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein
      Jordan's ambassador to the UN and former political officer in UN's Bosnia peacekeeping force. Thought to be backed by the US and Britain.

      Ban Ki-moon
      South Korea's foreign minister, who announced in February that he would stand.

      Shashi Tharoor
      UN undersecretary for communications and public information, from India.

      Surakiart Sathirathai
      Thai deputy prime minister. Backed by the 10-country Association of South-East Asian Nations; has been campaigning since last year.

      Jayantha Dhanapala
      Former Sri Lankan diplomat and UN official responsible for disarmament.

      Security council divided on successor to Kofi Annan


      • #4

        The men who want Kofi Annan's job


        • #5
          Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga is to run for the post of UN secretary-general, the first woman to vie for the job.

          Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania proposed her candidacy, bringing the number of candidates to replace Kofi Annan when his second five-year term expires on 31 December to six.

          The 68-year-old former psychology professor faces an uphill struggle because most members states generally agreed the next secretary-general should come from Asia, part of a tradition to rotate the job between regions.

          Latvian president bids to be first female UN chief


          • #6
            UNITED NATIONS (AP) - South Korea's foreign minister cemented his position as the near-certain successor to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday, the only one of six candidates to escape a veto in an informal Security Council ballot.

            The Security Council was expected to hold a formal vote to pick the eighth secretary-general in the United Nations' 60-year history on Oct. 9, making Ban Ki-Moon's appointment almost assured. The 192-nation General Assembly must approve the council's recommendation, and traditionally does so without protest.

            "It is quite clear that from today's straw poll that Minister Ban Ki-Moon is the candidate that the Security Council will recommend to the General Assembly,'' China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said.

            While the informal poll is nonbinding and the results could change, diplomats and candidates left little doubt that Ban would win. Soon after the results became known, India's Shashi Tharoor, the U.N. undersecretary-general for public information, announced he was leaving the race even though he placed second to Ban in all four of the informal polls.

            "It is clear that he will be our next secretary-general,'' Tharoor said.

            If Ban does indeed win the race, his selection will have been marked by unprecedented speed, consensus and calm. In the past, U.N. chiefs have often been elected as time runs out, after heated negotiations and numerous rounds of voting.

            Annan himself was a compromise candidate in 1996 who emerged late and only after the United States blocked Boutros Boutros-Ghali's bid for a second term. Annan's example also shows how unpredictable the process can be: during informal polling at the time, France consistently vetoed him before changing its vote at the last minute.

            In Monday's poll, the 15 council nations checked one of three boxes for each candidate in the secret ballot: "Encourage,'' "discourage,'' and "no opinion.'' For the first time, the five permanent members of the council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - were given blue ballots to show the candidates if they could escape a veto.

            According to the results, Ban received 14 votes in favor and a white "no opinion'' ballot cast by one of the 10 rotating members of the council. Every other candidate received at least one no vote from a veto-wielding member.

            Tharoor received 10 favorable votes and three against. One of those negative votes was a veto. Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga was next with five in favor, six against - including two vetoes - and four undecided votes.

            Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, who was the first to announce his candidacy last year, and former Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani each received four votes in favor. But Ghani had 11 votes against him including three vetoes, and Surakiart had seven no-votes, among them two vetoes.

            The last candidate, Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein, had only two votes in favor and eight against, with one veto.

            Bolton said the council would meet on Oct. 9 to hold its formal vote, while Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, president of the Security Council for October, said that was the likely date.

            Bolton said he'd wanted the vote by the end of the week, but agreed to delay so candidates could decide to drop out and new ones could come forward.

            But the council wants the process finished by the end of October, and Bolton suggested there wasn't enough time.

            "New candidates still have the option of coming forward, but we've been waiting for new candidates and I don't know of any, there's no speculation of any,'' Bolton said. "I'd be surprised if new candidates came forward.''

            Ban Ki-Moon cements hold on U.N. post


            • #7
              UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is leaving his presumed successor, Ban Ki-moon, an organization in a mess. During his 10 years in office Annan did virtually nothing but preside over scandal and create an entourage fit for a king. Ban's first priority will be a thorough housecleaning:

              UN mess is Ban Ki-moon's challenge


              • #8

                Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon, right, receives a certificate for the Medal of National Order of Merit from Rabah Hadid, Algerian ambassador to South Korea, at Ban’s office in Seoul, Monday

                The Algerian government on Monday awarded Ban Ki-moon, the next U.N. secretary-general, the Medal of National Order of Merit for his efforts to enhance relations between the two countries into a "strategic partnership.''

                Ban, minister of foreign affairs and trade, also received another medal on the same day from the Hungarian government, commemorating his childhood hope for democracy and liberty in the former Stalinist state.

                Rabah Hadid, Algeria's top diplomat to South Korea, said at the awarding ceremony at the foreign ministry in Seoul that his government decided to give the medal to Ban "a number of months ago.''

                It means the South Korean minister was selected even before being elected the U.N. secretary-general on Oct. 14, he said.

                "My government highly evaluated his contribution to the relationship between Algeria and South Korea, which has developed in a very impressive way in a very short period of time,'' the ambassador told The Korea Times.

                He said Algeria does not have a long tradition of giving medals to foreigners.

                "But I can say Minister Ban is among the very few who have been selected as awardees for their contribution to the development of bilateral relations and their unforgettable service to the Algerian people during our liberation war.''

                The two nations established diplomatic ties in 1990.

                Hours later, Ban also received the Commemorative Medal of Hero of Freedom from the Hungarian government, which highly estimated Ban's support for the European country's revolt in October 1956 against the Stalinist rule.

                Hungarian Ambassador to Seoul Istvan Torzsa attended the awards ceremony at the ministry with Ban.

                As a representative of his elementary school, Ban, then 12, sent a letter supporting the Hungarian revolt for democracy to then U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold.

                South Korea and Hungary formed diplomatic relations in 1989.

                Ban Ki-moon gets 2 medals


                • #9
                  South Korea seems to appear out of nowhere [to me]. the former [okay he died] chief of WHO was South Korean as well.


                  • #10
                    UNITED NATIONS, New York: Ban Ki Moon, the incoming secretary general of the United Nations, got his new job in an unlikely manner for a man known for head-of-the-class performance, devotion to duty and a relentless rise through the ranks.

                    He got fired.

                    "I was totally out of work for the first time in my life," he said.

                    Worse than that, the professional lapse that cost him his high-level position in the South Korean Foreign Ministry required a public apology in Washington from the country's then-president, Kim Dae Jung. Aides to Ban had accidentally left a positive mention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in a communiqué at a time when the Bush administration had decided to abandon it.

                    "You must understand the political impact in Asia that public apologies have," Ban said, wincing at the memory.

                    As it turned out, he survived, thanks to another Asian cultural tradition.

                    "I had what we call a 'jeon-hwa-we- bok' experience," he said. The maxim, well known to Koreans, means that a misfortune has turned into a blessing.

                    While waiting in Seoul to be shunted off to a remote embassy, as he expected, he was tapped by Han Seung Soo, the General Assembly president for 2001, to come to the United Nations to be Han's chief of staff.

                    "Had I been appointed to an ambassadorship somewhere, I simply wouldn't have had this opportunity to be selected secretary general," Ban said.

                    The full realization of this reversal of fortune comes this Thursday with his formal swearing-in as the eighth secretary general of the United Nations.

                    He will assume the office on Jan. 1, replacing Kofi Annan, who completes his second five-year term on Dec. 31.

                    Courtly and deliberate, with an easy smile, Ban, 62, is an unknown at the United Nations, particularly compared with the high-profile globe-trotting diplomat he is succeeding.

                    With the exception of his misstep in 2001, Ban has been almost surpassingly unassuming and inoffensive, noticed, when he is, for his steady record of incremental achievement at the South Korean Foreign Ministry where he has spent his entire 37-year career.

                    The elusiveness may be intended.

                    "When I was the foreign policy adviser to President Roh Moo Hyun, everybody was caught up in controversy with what they said to the media, but I avoided the tricky, sometimes nasty, questions," he said. "The press people called me the 'slippery eel' because they could never grab me."

                    A loyal and dependable company man, he once wrote by hand letters of apology to 120 Foreign Ministry officials after being promoted ahead of them. "They were very much grateful for my gesture," he said. "With that, I was able to lessen the sorry feelings of my senior colleagues." His bent for not stepping on toes and his repeated public expressions of humility during the months that he was campaigning for secretary general have raised doubts about his suitability for the job.

                    How can someone with such a retiring manner lead an organization undergoing a hotly contested reformation, ridden with regional rivalries and subject to competing demands from the great powers and the nations of the developing world?

                    Addressing this concern in his acceptance speech to the General Assembly on Oct. 13, he asked that people accept his modest mien as a cultural attribute and not misread it as lack of decisiveness or passion. "Modesty is about demeanor," he said, "not about vision and goals. It does not mean the lack of commitment or leadership." In campaigning for the job, Ban presented himself as a "harmonizer and bridge builder" who would try to dispel the widespread mistrust of the United Nations.

                    With the choice of each secretary general, the question always arises which part of that title the new person will inhabit. Given Ban's résumé and style, the prediction now is that he will be more a secretary, less a general.

                    But the same expectation greeted Annan 10 years ago, and, to the particular dismay of the Bush administration, he ended up being more general, less secretary.

                    John Bolton, the outgoing U.S. ambassador, left no doubt what the American hopes are for Ban, whom Washington backed vigorously.

                    He repeatedly pointed out that the job of secretary general is described in the United Nations Charter as simply "chief administrative officer."

                    Ban was born June 13, 1944, in Eumseong, a farm village in Japanese-occupied Korea, and raised in Cheongju, a nearby town. His family lost its middle- class standard of living when his father's warehouse business went bankrupt, and Ban was to spend his early years as a diplomat deliberately picking posts where he could save money to send home.

                    When he was 6, his family had to flee to a remote mountainside to escape the fighting in the Korean War. "We were safe and in a place where neither the South Korean nor North Korean armies would come, but we were poor and hungry," he said. "I could see the fighter jets bombing the towns and cities nearby."

                    The eldest of six children, he was a standout student, applying himself with particular zeal to learning English. The method of study was arduous, with students required to write the same English sentences 10 times as a way of memorizing them.

                    He married another high achiever, his school's student council president, Yoo Soon Taek, in 1971, a year after he had passed his diplomat's exam.

                    The couple have two daughters, Seon Yong, 34, who works in Seoul for the Korea Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes Korean culture, and Hyun Hee, 30, a field officer for Unicef in Nairobi. They also have a son, Woo Hyun, 32, who is studying for a master's degree in business administration at the University of California at Los Angeles.

                    He received his bachelor of arts degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970 and earned a master of arts in public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1985.

                    Ban has long associations with both the United States and the United Nations.

                    He was assigned twice to the South Korean Embassy in Washington and is a former director general of American affairs for the Foreign Ministry. He served as first secretary to the South Korean mission at the United Nations and as the director of the ministry's United Nations Division, in addition to being the chief of staff to the president of the General Assembly.

                    Ban said the United Nations had great resonance for all South Koreans, who credit the organization with creating the country in 1948 and then freeing it from North Korea two years later by authorizing the American-led forces.

                    In 1956 Ban was picked by his class to address an appeal to Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold over the Hungarian uprising against the Russians.

                    But whether there is an interesting historical footnote here, Ban can't say. "I never found out if they ever sent it," he said.

                    Twist of fate led to top post at UN


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post
                      I was going to say "I hope the woman wins" until I saw this:

                      The popular Baltic leader is a strong supporter of the US policy in Iraq and is believed to enjoy the support of the White House and certain EU countries.
                      All my life I was taught that women are full of 7ub wa 7anan and have not an ounce of cruelty in their hearts. I guess we can call Condi and this this women, can we?

                      Now I say "I hope the Muslim wins"

                      However, I hope that he's fiercer than he looks...


                      • #12
                        The incoming United Nations secretary-general has yet to take office, but a controversy is already engulfing his nascent relationship with the American Jewish community.

                        South Korea’s Ban-Ki Moon, who will begin his term January 1 with little experience regarding Israel and its supporters, is coming under fire for his team’s relationship with a little-known Orthodox businessman and activist named Michael Landau. The head of a local Orthodox group in Manhattan, Landau has been actively courting the new secretary-general’s entourage and presenting himself as a go-between to help Ban navigate the U.N.’s notoriously fraught relationship with Jewish groups.

                        But several diplomats and major Jewish organizations are questioning whether Landau’s business activities could influence the advice he would give Ban, pointing to his courtship of African ambassadors at a time when he was involved in mining activities on the continent. Some critics fear that a backlash would be damaging to the Jewish community, Israel and the new secretary-general.

                        Landau is reportedly backed by Malcolm Hoenlein, the influential executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, though he is not affiliated with the umbrella group, widely viewed as the Jewish community’s leading voice on Middle Eastern affairs. Critics claim Hoenlein is pushing Landau as a go-between in order to become the community’s main interlocutor to Ban.

                        “It is inappropriate for any of us to promote a specific individual as a liaison without consulting the community leadership,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “The secretary-general should reach out to all of us.”

                        The ADL, the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith International have refused to attend meetings with Ban and his close circle proposed by Landau in recent weeks, sources familiar with the situation told the Forward. On the other hand, they added, Landau has garnered some support from the World Jewish Congress. Landau declined several requests for comment. Hoenlein did not return calls.

                        On the day of his swearing-in, December 14, Ban made an appearance at the annual dinner of the Presidents’ Conference. Even while acknowledging that attending the event was a good way for Ban to show his willingness to engage the Jewish community, some observers fretted that this was in fact a nod to Hoenlein.

                        In a series of interviews, several Jewish communal leaders, U.N. officials and diplomats expressed deep misgivings about entrusting a little-known entity like Landau with a prominent intermediary role. Although no one produced evidence about the incompatibility of his business activities and his advocacy work, critics stressed that the recent trauma of the Iraq oil-for-food scandal required extra caution to avoid adverse consequences for Ban and the Jewish community.

                        Landau, who by all accounts is an engaging character, has been active in computer software companies and advised at least one mining company in recent years. His advocacy work is centered on the Coalition of Orthodox Jewish Organizations of the West Side, which caters to local community needs. He is the group’s chairman. He was also involved in the Jerusalem Coalition, which brought together Orthodox Jewish Republicans, helping to organize a trip by Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer to Israel in 2003. In recent years, Landau has been involved in U.N. affairs, organizing meetings, trips and receptions for ambassadors — often, communal sources said, working with the President’s Conference. Landau has attended meetings between Jewish groups and visiting foreign dignitaries on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly during which he was presented as representing the Presidents’ Conference, according to participants in the meetings. “I don’t have a problem with one or several go-betweens,” said Shai Franklin, director of international organizations at the World Jewish Congress. “No one should be cut out, there is room for everyone, be it an individual or a group.”

                        Landau also received strong backing for his advocacy work on behalf of the Orthodox community of the Upper West Side. Rabbi Alan Schwarz, religious leader of a local Orthodox congregation and president of the group chaired by Landau, praised his boundless energy and his ability to solve mundane issues. Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant, described Landau as a tireless advocate for the Orthodox and the larger Jewish community, saying that his cultivating of ties with African ambassadors was smart diplomacy.

                        One area of concern for some critics is Landau’s close work with several African ambassadors at a time when he was in business with a Canadian company mining gold on the continent back in 2005.

                        In January 2005, a Landau-run company called Vango Holdings was hired by Searchgold Resources, a Canadian mining firm active in Gabon and Guinea, to become responsible for its investor relations. At the time, Landau was on good terms with Jean Ping, the foreign minister of Gabon, who held the position of president of the General Assembly. Landau organized receptions and meetings for Ping. Searchgold’s activities in Gabon picked up in early 2005, with the company announcing that it had raised more than $1.1 million, resumed drilling at its Bakoudou mine and obtained a new exploration permit. But Searchgold parted ways with Landau four months later. Searchgold director Maurice Giroux told the Forward that Landau was not a good fit and that his contacts in Gabon did not prove useful. He declined to elaborate. Requests for comment to the Gabonese mission to the U.N. were not returned.

                        Several sources said on condition of anonymity that Landau had openly bragged about his clout with sub-Saharan African ambassadors. “He is a businessman, first and foremost,” said a person familiar with Landau’s interactions with African diplomats.

                        Sources said that Landau helped set up a trip to Israel in early 2004 for six African diplomats sponsored by the American-Israel Friendship League, a nonprofit chaired by Kenneth Bialkin, a former chairman of the ADL and the Presidents’ Conference.

                        Several Jewish communal activists speaking on the condition of anonymity said that they have heard directly from Israeli officials about concerns regarding Landau. At least one top Jewish communal leader passed his concerns to the leadership of the Conference of Presidents. Israeli diplomats at the U.N. mission declined to comment.

                        “Ban should get a sense of the diversity of our community,” said Sybil Kessler, director of U.N. affairs at B’nai B’rith International. “I would like him to appoint a senior official as a focal point.”

                        This is a reference to the “focal points” created by outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan within his secretariat to facilitate dealings with a variety of groups or interests not formally represented at the U.N. One of Annan ’s lieutenants served as a liaison to the American Jewish community, a position Annan saw as a key to improving the U.N.’s historically strained relationship with Israel and, cynics would add, to currying favor in Washington during hard times.

                        The current “focal point” is Edward Mortimer, a U.N. official from Britain who will return to Europe when Annan officially finishes his term in the next few weeks. Much speculation has centered on whether Ban will maintain the position. “I briefed the new S.G. and his team and advised them to keep the focal point, which was appreciated by the Jewish community,” Mortimer said.

                        A senior secretariat official also said Ban was leaning toward appointing a point-person on his staff and steering clear of an outside fixer. Some U.N. officials have quietly discouraged Ban’s team from granting Landau a prominent role. While no personnel announcement has yet been made, the message seems to have been heard.

                        Yeocheol Yoon, a political counselor at the South Korean mission to the U.N. and an adviser to Ban, told the Forward that the new secretary-general was talking to a variety of Jewish groups and representatives and that Landau was merely one interlocutor. He added that the secretary was likely to appoint a focal point within his office. “We’ll do it our way, but we’ll certainly have someone on the inside and we never had the idea of tapping someone from the outside.”

                        U.N. chief pressured to bypass businessman


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