UN chief appoints Belgian's UN ambassador to coordinate Lebanon ops

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Belgium's UN Ambassador Johan Verbeke to be the new coordinator of UN operations in Lebanon, the UN announced Thursday. Verbeke, a career diplomat who is a member of the UN Security Council, will replace Geir Pedersen of Norway as the UN special coordinator for Lebanon. UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe, who announced the appointment, noted that the Security Council must confirm it. The council's approval is virtually certain and considered a formality. Verbeke, who trained as a lawyer in Belgium and at Yale University Law School in Connecticut, was previously posted in Lebanon, Jordan, Burundi, Chile and Washington. Before taking up his current job as UN ambassador he served as chief of staff to Belgium's foreign minister. In his current job, Verbeke has served on the new UN Peacebuilding Commission as well as the Security Council and has chaired the council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran.