01/29/2008, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Seoul: new prime minister named

President-elect Lee Myung-bak chooses Han Seung-soo, 72, currently a UN diplomat. More cabinet announcements are expected soon. Lee wants to eliminate the unification ministry.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea’s President-elect Lee Myung-bak has made its first cabinet appointment, nominating Han Seung-soo for the post of prime minister. Mr Han, 72, is a career diplomat and lawmaker currently serving as a UN special envoy on climate change. Mr Lee will present his nominee to parliament for approval on 26 February.

“Han is best qualified to achieve our goal of reinvigorating the economy and also for trade and energy diplomacy,” he said.

In 2001 the future prime minister served as foreign minister from 2001-2002; he has also held both the finance and commerce portfolios.

Parliament should easily approve Mr Lee’s choice. The president himself takes office on 25 February.

Mr Lee won a landslide victory in general elections in December, returning the conservative Grand National Party to power for the first time in a decade.

More announcements on his cabinet line-up are expected in the next few days.

Eyes will be on who Lee will appoint as Unification Minister, the important post responsible for relations with North Korea but one that the new president might even abolish.

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