Yoon to nominate ex-PM Han for his first prime minister

SEOUL– President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will announce the nomination of former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo for the first prime minister of the incoming government on Sunday, officials said.

Han also confirmed his nomination, saying in a phone call with Yonhap News Agency that he met with Yoon on Saturday night and held “comprehensive discussions on overall state affairs,” including the issue of personnel appointments.

Yoon’s chief of staff, Chang Je-won, said the two had a “sandwich meeting” for about three hours.

Yoon will hold a press conference to announce Han’s nomination at 3:30 p.m., officials said.

Han said he will also be present at the conference.

During Saturday’s meeting, Yoon stressed the importance of cooperation with the opposition party, Han said.

“We discussed cooperation between the Democratic Party and the government as a way to push ahead with a lot of tasks we have,” he said. “President-elect Yoon has pretty strong faith in unity and cooperative governance.”

The basic principle Yoon has with regard to running the state affairs is to “inherit what is good among things that the previous government did and make improvements on things that need improvement,” Han said.

“It’s not ‘anything but,'” Han said, referring to the famous “Anything But Clinton” principle under which former U.S. President George W. Bush tried to change policy that his predecessor Bill Clinton had pursued.

How to form the Cabinet was also discussed, Han said. .

“I and President-elect Yoon discussed which people are appropriate for the Cabinet,” Han said. “We didn’t discuss when and how to make announcements.”

Han, 72, has held a number of high positions in the government, including finance minister, prime minister under former President Roh Moo-hyun and ambassador to the United States. In those capacities, he played a key role in negotiating a free trade agreement with the U.S.

Han is considered a trade specialist with expertise in foreign affairs, making him a suitable candidate to oversee Yoon’s twin priorities of rebuilding the economy and bolstering national security.

Nominating Han is thought to have other benefits too.

The former prime minister was born in Jeonju, a liberal stronghold, and served under two liberal presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh, which could reduce the chances of his nomination being opposed by the liberal Democratic Party.

Han also passed the National Assembly’s vetting during the confirmation process for his nomination as prime minister in 2007.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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