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Ex-P.M.: Keep U.N. chief out of politics

Han Seung-soo criticizes those who link Ban to Korea’s presidential election in 2012

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should be “freed from domestic politics,” former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said, referring to recent opinion polls that included Ban as one of the country’s presidential hopefuls.

“It is our duty to free Secretary General Ban from domestic politics so he can serve the world,” Han, chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute, was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

“Repeated mentions of his name in domestic politics would be disadvantageous for him as he performs his role as the U.N. secretary general.”

Ban, whose five-year term will end in December, plans to run for reelection as the U.N. secretary general. 

Ban has expressed displeasure over media surveys that listed him as one of the presidential aspirants in the 2012 elections.

“(Ban) said it was extremely unfortunate that he was named as a presidential contender in opinion polls despite having repeatedly said that he has no intention to run in the presidential elections,” a senior U.N. official said last week on Ban’s behalf.

Han called on politicians and media to keep Ban’s name out of domestic politics and never mention him again in surveys on presidential hopefuls.

Main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Jie-won hinted last year that the party may back Ban as the next presidential candidate, drawing criticism from Ban’s supporters that such remarks could harm his bid for re-election as the U.N. chief.

Han and Ban have built close personal ties, working together at the Korean Embassy in the U.S., the presidential office, the Foreign Ministry and the U.N. Congress.

Han stressed in the interview that Ban was determined to promote stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Russia has proposed appointing a special envoy on inter-Korean relations, but this would require the agreement of all concerned countries, Han said.

By Kim So-hyun (