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U.N. chief vows to focus on duties as U.N. chief amid speculation about presidential ambitions

All News 01:41 June 10, 2016

NEW YORK, June 9 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he won't be distracted from his duties as U.N. chief "until the very last minute," amid heightened speculation he may be considering a run for president of South Korea.

Ban, whose second five-year term as U.N. chief ends late this year, has long been talked about as a potential candidate for next year's presidential election in his home country. Even though he has refused to discuss such a possibility, he has never ruled out the possibility, either.

Speculation about his presidential ambitions spiked in recent weeks as Ban said during a visit to South Korea that he would "contemplate" what he would do as a South Korean citizen when he returns to his home country after stepping down as U.N. chief.

"I'd like to make one thing clear again today. As I have been for nine plus years -- this is my last year as secretary general -- I have made it quite clear on many occasions that I will never be distracted from my mandate as secretary-general of the United Nations entrusted by the member states," Ban told reporters at the U.N. headquarters.

"I will exert all my efforts and time as secretary-general of the United Nations until the very last minute of my mandate. That's my answer and this is my firm conviction," he said.

Ban's trip to South Korea drew huge media attention as it came after South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party suffered a crushing defeat in April's parliamentary elections, sparking speculation the party could try to recruit Ban as its presidential candidate.

The trip also included a meeting with retired veteran politician and former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil. Kim was quoted as saying at a dinner meeting Thursday that he got an impression that Ban "appeared firmly determined."

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