Kofi Annan hopes his successor is female

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan revealed his hope for a female successor Wednesday by repeatedly referring to the next secretary-general as "she."

Annan, speaking at a news conference in the Turkish capital about the divided island of Cyprus, said: "I would hope that whoever succeeds me, he or she will pursue this file aggressively, AP reports.

"I hope she will be determined to build on what we have achieved and work hard to achieve unification in Cyprus," he said. "And I hope she will be more successful than I have been."

Pushed by a reporter to elaborate on his choice of pronoun, Annan said he hoped a woman will be considered for the job.

"Obviously, the decision is out of the Security Council, but I hope the door will be open to a he or a she," he said. "A she has never had it."

In 1997, Annan, a native of Ghana, became the United Nations' seventh secretary-general. He completes his term at the end of 2006.

Five men currently are vying to succeed him: South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, British-born U.N. Undersecretary-General for Public Affairs Shashi Tharoor, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, former U.N. disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka and Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein.