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U.N. chief to meet ex-S. Korean PM in New York

All News 22:43 June 05, 2016

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet with former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan in New York this week, a source close to Lee said Sunday, spawning speculation over Ban's apparent presidential ambitions.

Ban and Lee will meet Wednesday during the latter's ongoing trip to the U.S., which came at the invitation of the State Department, according to the source who works at a foundation honoring the late former President Roh Moo-hyun. Lee, who served as prime minister during the 2003-2008 Roh administration, is the foundation's chief director.

"(Lee's) itinerary includes a visit to New York," the source said on the condition of anonymity. "I understand that Secretary-General Ban knew this and called to propose a cup of tea."

The meeting will likely draw keen attention as it comes only days after Ban indicated an interest in running for South Korea's presidency during a visit to his native country last week. The next presidential election is slated for December 2017 and Ban has long been considered a strong contender especially within the conservative ruling party.

Ban, however, served as foreign minister during the liberal Roh administration at the same time Lee was prime minister. Lee reportedly played a role in getting Ban elected chief of the global body.

Political watchers raised the possibility that the former foreign minister may be reaching out to regain the support of Roh loyalists from whom he has drifted apart.

"For Secretary-General Ban, it's only natural that he feels uneasy about the talk that he has turned his back on Roh loyalists," an official of the liberal opposition camp said, asking that he not be identified.

Ban is to complete his second, five-year term as U.N. chief at the end of this year.

hague@yna.co.kr
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