Hasan Suroor

LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied persistent speculation that he is in the race for the post of the United Nations' Secretary-General when it falls vacant later this year.

The speculation was sparked by a speech he gave in America on U.N. reforms recently and which commentators said "read like a job application.''

The former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, was reported as saying Mr. Blair would make a good successor to Kofi Annan who retires in December. "He would be a good one,'' Mr. Clinton said.

But when Mr. Blair was asked at his monthly press conference on Thursday whether he was a contender, he said: "I am very happy doing the job I am doing. I am not going for the U.N. job.''

Mr. Blair has already declared that this is his last term as Prime Minister and there is much speculation that he would be keen to assume the role of an elder statesman on world stage.