Argentine foreign minister questioned on being next UN chief

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Argentina's Foreign Minister Susanna Malcorra said Wednesday that whether she is nominated as a candidate to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations "is in the hands of my president."

The former U.N. undersecretary-general and chief of staff to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term ends on Dec. 31, acknowledged rumors at U.N. headquarters that President Mauricio Macri will nominate her.

But she said "I think it will be irresponsible from my side to comment."

Malcorra, who left the U.N. in December after Macri tapped her to be foreign minister, is attending several high-level meetings here this week. She was peppered with questions at an event promoting the new U.N. goals for 2030 about whether she would become the 10th candidate for the world's top diplomatic post.

The secretary-general is chosen by the 193-member General Assembly on the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council, according to the U.N. Charter.

In practice, this has meant that the council's five permanent members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — have veto power over the candidates. That will not change in deciding whom to recommend to succeed Ban.

By tradition, the job of secretary-general has rotated among regions and Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all held the top U.N. post. East European nations, including Russia, argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it is their turn. There has also never been a woman secretary-general and a group of 56 nations are campaigning for the first female U.N. chief.

The nine candidates so far, who each appeared before the General Assembly last week to answer questions from members for two hours, include five men and four women — seven from Eastern Europe, one from Western Europe and one from the Asia-Pacific region.

Malcorra said Latin America is looking at the issue of the next secretary-general because while "it was said that it was an East European's turn now, there are more candidates in the mix."

"I'm sure there will be a point where Latin America will come together and most likely have a view on this, and we shall see," she said.

Russia has said its top priority is to have an East European, Malcorra said, but she said all countries including the five permanent Security Council members "will also look for the right person."

Asked whether she would accept the nomination, and what her agenda would be, Malcorra replied: "I love this organization. I deeply believe that this organization is more needed today than ever before."

She explained that the U.N. in the 21st century has to tackle very different issues than those when it was created 70 years ago, when differences were mainly between and among states.

There is no deadline for candidates, and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said last week he expects more hats to be thrown in the ring and would schedule another round of question-and-answer sessions with any additional men or women seeking to replace Ban.

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