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IAEA Board Seeks New Candidates

After two inconclusive votes, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been unable to agree on a replacement for outgoing agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei. The Vienna-based nuclear watchdog has opened up the post to fresh candidates.

After two voting sessions Thursday and Friday, the board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency failed to drum up the two-thirds majority for either of the two candidates for its top post - Japanese ambassador to the agency, Yukiya Amano and rival Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa.

The United States and western nations had generally backed Amano, while representatives from developing nations on the board endorsed Minty.

The board read out the results and their implications to reporters.

"We consider, therefore, in accordance of the agreed procedure as outlined in the document of 2008 of the board, the slate of candidates is considered to have been wiped clean," said a board member. "Then, in accordance with the rules, I will circulate a note Monday to invite members of the agency to present new candidates."

That means the race is wide open to replace Egyptian IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei who leaves his post in November, after three terms at the helm. Amano and Minty can also run again for the post. IAEA officials want a replacement picked by June.

ElBaradei, 66, has been an outspoken chief, who has not always seen eye to eye with the United States, notably regarding Iran's nuclear program.