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American Diplomat Named to Top UN Post

An American diplomat has been named to the top political policy-making position at the United Nations. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports the appointment is part of a wide-ranging administrative shakeup by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Secretary-General Ban named career U.S. diplomat B. Lynn Pascoe to the highly sought-after post of undersecretary-general for political affairs. He will take over from the former Nigerian foreign minister, Ibrahim Gambari, who was appointed in 2005 by then Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Before Gambari, the post had been held for decades by British diplomats.

Pascoe is now Washington's ambassador to Indonesia. Previously, he had served as envoy to Malaysia, spent two tours in Beijing, and was head of the American Institute in Taiwan.

He has also been posted to Moscow, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur during a 30-year career. He speaks Mandarin Chinese.

Pascoe's appointment was part of the second phase of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's promised administrative shakeup.

When he took over last month, the U.N. chief said he would strive for geographic as well as gender balance in his senior staff.

Earlier, he named Tanzanian Foreign Minister Asha-Rose Migiro to be deputy secretary-general, Alicia Barcena of Mexico to be Undersecretary-General for Management, and Vijay Nambiar of India as his chief of staff.

In the latest round, a veteran Chinese diplomat was named to the vast department of economic and social affairs. The department of public information went to Japan, the department of General Assembly and conference management will be headed by an Egyptian.

The leadership of two key departments will remain unchanged. The largest department in terms of manpower, peacekeeping, will continue under the command of France's Jean-Marie Guehenno, and Nicholas Michel of Switzerland will stay on as undersecretary general for legal affairs.

Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar says Secretary-General Ban's next goal is to fill the remainder of nearly 60 senior management spots involved in the shakeup. Among them, Nambiar says, are the assistant secretaries-general, known as ASGs, and his special envoys, known as SRSGs.

"He's come to the second stage when he's made some of his major undersecretary-general appointments," he said. "He will follow this up with the remaining undersecretary-general appointments and the appointments of the ASGs as it goes along, and then he'll go along the appointments of the SRSGs."

Among the prominent faces ousted in the shakeup, in addition to political affairs chief Gambari, was the Indian author Shashi Tharoor, who served as Secretary-General Annan's head of public information. Tharoor was considered Mr. Ban's closest rival last year in the competition to succeed Mr. Annan as secretary general.