SEOUL: South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon expressed gratitude on Monday for being nominated as U.N. Secretary-General and said he would work to resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear programme after the Communist country conducted an unprecedented atomic test.

If appointed, Mr. Ban said he would ``contribute as much as I can to the resolution of all kinds of problems including the North Korean nuclear issue that may threaten international peace and security.'' Mr. Ban was nominated earlier on Monday by the U.N. Security Council to succeed Kofi Annan, whose term expires at the end of the year. Mr. Ban said the nomination was an honour, but came at a difficult time. ``This should be a moment of joy, but instead I stand here with a very heavy heart,'' Mr. Ban told reporters referring to the North Korean move.

``Despite the concerted warning from the international community, North Korea has gone ahead with a nuclear test.''

Mr. Ban, a 62-year-old career diplomat, was the only remaining candidate for the coveted, high-profile job after six other contenders withdrew following the South Korean Foreign Minister's decisive victories in four informal straw polls in the Council. Agencies

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