Next U.N. head vows to help resolve NKorea nuclear issue in farewell speech

Ban Ki-moon, the next secretary-general of the United Nations, vowed Friday to use his influence to help resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions as he formally stepped down as South Korea's foreign minister.

In a farewell speech to parliament, Ban also thanked South Koreans for supporting him in the campaign to become U.N. chief.

"This diplomatic triumph belongs to all South Koreans and is the product of blood, sweat and tears our people had shed in overcoming all sorts of difficulties," Ban said. "The honor can never be mine alone."

Ban, who became South Korea's foreign minister in 2004, takes over from Kofi Annan on Jan. 1. He will become the first Asian to hold the post in 35 years.

The 62-year-old career diplomat said the impasse over the North's nuclear programs will be one of his top priorities as head of the world body.

"With regard to resolving the North Korea nuclear issue and maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula, I plan to best utilize my authority as secretary-general and contribute to resolving the issue peacefully as soon as possible," Ban said.

Ban also vowed to effectively carry out reforms within the U.N. and tackle other global issues like terrorism and poverty, reports AP.

Song Min-soon, the presidential security adviser, has been nominated as South Korea's next foreign minister. Song, 58, served as the country's main envoy to nuclear talks last year.

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