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(LEAD) (UN reelection) Lee congratulates Ban on reelection as U.N. secretary-general

All Headlines 15:27 June 22, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS diplomats' responses in last five paras)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak congratulated Ban Ki-moon on his reelection as U.N. secretary-general, saying Wednesday that he is proud of the former South Korean foreign minister for winning worldwide support for his leadership.

"This is the result of all people around the world holding high views of Secretary-General Ban's diligent and humble attitude and providing overwhelming support for it," Lee told Ban during a telephone conversation, according to presidential spokesman Park Jung-ha.

"I was very proud that leaders of not only advanced countries, but also developing nations in particular expressed active support. All South Koreans rejoiced" over Ban's reelection, Lee was quoted as saying during the seven-minute conversation.

The 67-year-old Ban, who was inaugurated in 2007 as the first Asian U.N. chief in four decades, won his uncontested, unanimous reelection at the helm of the 192-member organization on Tuesday (New York time). His second term will begin on Jan. 1.

In talks with Lee, Ban expressed thanks for South Korea's support.

"I am grateful for the support of the president and all the South Koreans. All member countries provided unanimous support. I am overwhelmed to think that I have contributed to upgrading the status of the Republic of Korea," Ban told Lee, according to the presidential spokesman.

Lee also sent thank-you letters to the leaders of all 15 U.N. Security Council member nations for supporting Ban.

"As president of Secretary-General Ban's native country, I express gratitude for providing active support for Ban's reelection," Lee said in the letter, according to the spokesman. "South Korea, as a U.N. member, will work actively together with your nation to realize the ideals and goals of the United Nations."

In Seoul, diplomats were jubilant after Ban won a second term as the U.N. chief, saying his reelection marked another milestone in South Korea's diplomacy.

Kim Yong-kyoo, chairman of the Korean Council on Foreign Relations, said, "I'm very proud of Ban's reelection because it proved his leadership as the U.N. chief over the past four and a half years."

Park Soo-gil, president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations and a former South Korean ambassador to the U.N., said the result of the U.N. General Assembly vote was not just an honor for Ban but another turning point that expanded the scope of South Korea's global diplomacy.

"I think his reelection was a result of assessments over his 'quiet leadership.' He is the pride of our country," Park said.

"As a South Korean citizen and the U.N. secretary-general, I think Ban will play an important role in the unification of the Korean Peninsula," Park said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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