CAIRO: Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit thanked United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call Saturday for appointing Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Shaaban as undersecretary-general for General Assembly and conference management.
Aboul Gheit pledged Egypt’s support for UN reform, especially as an effort to push for the interests of developing countries in the areas of development and society, as well as conflict resolution and reconstruction in areas of conflict.
Shaaban was formerly Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs, and previously served as Egypt’s Ambassador to the EU and Belgium. Often a member of the Egyptian mission to the UN, he participated in more than 600 regional and international gatherings.
Shaaban replaced Jian Chen of China.
“Shaaban is very well qualified for the position, former ambassador and international organizations expert Abdallah Al-Ashaal told The Daily Star Egypt.
Ashaal said “it is an important position, but what it bodes for Egypt is yet to be seen.
The top political post of undersecretary-general of Political Affairs went to American Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe who replaced Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria.
For the first time, the United States has sought a political post rather than an administrative one. British diplomats had occupied that particular position for decades before Gambari’s appointment.
Pascoe had served in Moscow and Bangkok, as well as serving posts on the Soviet and Chinese desks in the State Department.
There have been claims that the country chosen is allowed to pick its candidate, regardless of qualifications. The secretary-general’s chief of staff Vijay Nambiar refuted this saying that Ki-moon had made wide consultations.
Ashaal however agreed with the former sentiment saying that Shaaban is popular in the Egyptian political arena, which indicates countries’ influence in the appointment of such posts.
The UN secretary-general expressed a desire to visit Egypt, which Aboul Gheit welcomed.
The telephone conversation between the two officials also included discussions on the recent Mecca agreement between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.