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Former U.N. chief meets political bigwigs

All News 12:01 January 20, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday visited parliamentary leaders as he revved up a politically-tinged campaign to build public support and chart his path towards the country's top elected office.

A day after his courtesy call to former President Lee Myung-bak, Ban visited National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and two vice parliamentary speakers -- Rep. Shin Jae-cheol of the ruling Saenuri Party and Rep. Park Joo-sun of the minor opposition People's Party.

Since his return to Korea last Thursday after 10 years of service as the U.N. secretary-general, Ban has been striving to connect with citizens -- and apparently explore ways to boost his presidential prospects.

Ban has yet to declare his presidential bid, but he has repeatedly signaled his intention to run in the presidential election this year, vowing to work for a "change in politics" in a message directed at establishment politicians.

Chung welcomed Ban's return to South Korea, expressing his hope that Ban will use his experience at the world body to help address a series of challenges facing his home country.

"You have done hard work over the past decade as U.N. chief. We truly welcome you back home," Chung told Ban.

Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon (L) shakes hands with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun before their talks at the National Assembly on Jan. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

Ban, in turn, stressed the importance of the legislature's role in stabilizing state affairs amid President Park Geun-hye's impeachment. Park was suspended on Dec. 9 after parliament impeached her over a corruption scandal.

"I have met with citizens who were very concerned about the economy and various political situations," Ban said, recounting reactions from citizens that he met during his tour.

In response to a question by vice speaker Park about whether he has decided to join any political party, Ban said, "Nothing has been decided as of yet."

On Monday, Ban indicated that he would make a decision on his political affiliation after the Lunar New Year's holiday that begins next Friday.

In the afternoon, Ban is set to meet Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn and attend a gathering of the country's diplomatic officials.


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