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UPDATED: 13:04, February 19, 2006
Chirac mum on UN secretary-general candidacy
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French President Jacques Chirac was mum on Saturday during his state visit to Thailand on whether his country would support a Thai candidate for the job of United Nations secretary-general to replace Kofi Annan.

"I have immense respect for the deputy prime minister ( Surakiart Sathirathai) of Thailand, but the tradition to bear in mind is that, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we never comment or give opinions before appropriate times. And the Thai prime minister knows this tradition very well," he told a press conference after his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin said before the French president's state visit that Thailand hoped France would support Surakiart Sathirathai to be the world body's next secretary-general, after Annan's term expires at the end of the year.

The contest to field a replacement for the UN's top job moved into high gear after South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday declared his candidacy as well.

Surakiart was given a boost on Saturday after Malaysia stressed that it would certainly back the Thai candidate.

Chirac, who is the first French leader to make an official visit to the kingdom since Thailand and France established diplomatic ties in 1856, said Thailand and France were sharing a " moral obligation" by helping develop the economies of this region.

Source: Xinhua

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