UNSC begins discussing the next UN sec. general

US Ambassador John Bolton launched Security Council discussions on the next UN secretary-general on Friday, saying the choice of a replacement for Kofi Annan is probably the most important decision the 191 UN member states will make this year. Annan's second five-year term ends on Dec. 31 and his successor must be approved by the General Assembly based on a recommendation from the Security Council. Bolton, who is the council president this month, called a meeting of the five veto-wielding permanent members Thursday "to get a sense of where the council is, so that we can begin to move forward on the issue." At the moment, the permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - are divided on when to choose the next secretary-general and where he or she should come from.