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Seoul mayor says Ban should respect U.N. recommendation on political activities

All Headlines 11:01 May 25, 2016

SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) -- Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Wednesday said it is inappropriate for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to run in the next presidential race after stepping down from his current post, as speculation is growing about Ban's possible entry into the country's politics.

"It is appropriate to follow the U.N. recommendation since the country gave birth to a U.N. chief," Park said during an interview with YTN Radio, referring to an understanding that asks former secretary-generals not to take an official position in governments after their term leading the global body.

A growing number of people are carefully watching the former South Korean foreign minister to see if he will make a bid for presidency in the 2017 race.

Park is also cited as one of the potential candidates in the upcoming race for the country's chief executive.

Ban has stringently declined to comment on issues related to local politics, adding he will instead focus on his duty as the U.N. chief. But he has also avoided taking a stand that will lay to rest his future in South Korean politics.

Such discussions have again sparked debate here as Ban will visit South Korea on Wednesday. The U.N. chief said he has no plans to meet political officials during the visit, but his trip is being carefully scrutinized.

"U.N. secretary-generals have access to confidential information around the globe. If they become officials of a single government, they could abuse the information," Park said.

The Seoul mayor, however, said the public's opinion and personal willingness will also play key roles in making the final decision.

While most U.N. secretary-generals do retire from public life, some, like the late Trygve Halvdan Lie of Norway, have remained very active in domestic politics and even have held several ministerial posts.

Meanwhile, a local poll carried out by Realmeter showed Park ranking in fourth place in terms of his approval rating for the next presidential election at 7.6 percent. In a separate survey conducted by Yonhap News Agency and KBS, a local broadcaster in February, Ban topped the list of potential presidential hopefuls by receiving 28.3 percent support.

colin@yna.co.kr
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