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Tharoor to visit India; meet PM

Source: PTI
June 16, 2006 22:41 IST
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United Nations Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, nominated by India as its candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday to discuss the future course of action.

Tharoor is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some other leaders in New Delhi during his first visit after being fielded by India for the top post of the world body, sources said in Delhi on Friday.

In his first reaction to his nomination, the 50-year-old well-known author said he was "deeply honoured" by the government's decision to field him for the prestigious post.

Noting that he believed a well-functioning UN can make real difference in the world, he expressed his determination to work towards that end if elected.

If elected, Tharoor will be the first Indian to occupy that post.

India's decision to field him comes with an assertion that under the principle of regional rotation, the next secretary general of the UN should be from Asia.

Tharoor, who has served at the UN in various capacities and has been closely involved in the process of UN reforms, will be competing from at least three other candidates from Asia -- Sri Lanka's Jayantha Dhanapala, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirthai and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.

India believes that a prospective UN secretary general should be of "impeccable credentials, be acceptable to the broadest possible membership of the UN and have a strong commitment to the reform of the UN and the interests of the developing countries."

Initially hesitant to nominate anyone, India acquired confidence to field its own candidate for the top UN post in the wake of the country's election to the UN Human Rights Council recently with a huge mandate of 173 votes in the 191-member UN.

New Delhi has now launched a campaign to muster support for Tharoor and in this direction backing of the US and other four permanent members of the Security Council will be crucial.

Realising this, Tharoor said, "The US is so indispensable to our functioning that there can be no secretary general who says he or she can do without the US."

Describing the US as "a fundamental partner", he said, "We would definitely look forward to working with the US both in the process of working on this election and well beyond."

Washington said it will be "looking very carefully at all the nominees".

Tharoor's nomination is expected to receive opposition from Pakistan and China.

About his campaign for the post, he said, "Sure, if it's necessary to campaign then I will do so on my own time."

Tharoor said, "Actually I have been serving the United Nations for most of my adult life and have been working in various fields of the UN so to be given an opportunity now to lead the institution is one that I consider a great privilege."

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