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Annan to Visit Asia on UN Reforms
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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to begin a journey to Asia on Sunday to promote UN reforms.

He is scheduled to meet the leaders of South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. The major focus of his trip will be the discussion of UN reforms, Annan told reporters Wednesday.

"I'm going to Asia at a critical time for the UN and (I'll) visit several Asian countries that have very important roles to play in this organization," he said.

The Asia tour is to begin Sunday in Seoul, where Annan is slated to meet with government leaders and speak at Seoul National University, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

He will then travel to Tokyo, Beijing, Hanoi and Bangkok.

But any discussion of his successor when he steps down in December will be avoided, Annan said.

Annan's second five-year term ends on Dec. 31 and Asian and African nations have agreed that his successor should be an Asian, though the United States says the next UN chief should be the most qualified candidate.

The next secretary-general must be approved by the 191-member General Assembly, based on a recommendation from the Security Council.

Before arriving in Asia on Sunday, Annan plans to spend several days at the European Union-Latin America-Caribbean summit in Vienna, where he is to address the meeting and speak with heads of state.

(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2006)

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