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UN chief seeking a second term

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that he will seek a second term as head of the UN, pledging to keep leading the world body as a "bridge-builder" at a time of unprecedented global change.

His re-election is virtually assured.

The former South Korean foreign minister finally made public what has been the UN's worst kept secret - that he wants a second term - at a news conference to discuss his recent trips to Europe and Africa.

In his virtually non-stop travels around the globe, he has been quietly lobbying world leaders for support.

Mr Ban said he had sent letters to the 15-member Security Council and 192-member General Assembly "humbly" offering himself for consideration for a second five-year term. His current term ends December 31.

"During the past four-and-a-half years, we have undertaken important work and found common ground on critical global issues of peace and security - from Somalia to Sudan, Ivory Coast to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East and far beyond," Mr Ban said in the letter to the council.

"I am proud of all we have done together, even as I am mindful of the formidable challenges ahead," he said. "It would be an honour to have the opportunity to continue serving in this great and noble endeavor."

Though he insisted he takes nothing for granted, Mr Ban has no opponents and diplomats say he has the backing of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council - the US, China, Russia, France and Britain - who must recommend him.

He is likely to have support from the entire General Assembly, which will probably elect him by acclamation later this month.

The Security Council met privately on Monday afternoon to discuss how to proceed. In the past, the council has adopted a resolution recommendation a candidate for the UN's top job.

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