In announcing the nomination, Lee said Han was best qualified to not only reinvigorate the South Korean economy but also for trade and energy diplomacy.

 

"I believe he has a more global mind than anyone else," said Lee. "I think with his international experience and contacts he is the most competent person to revive the economy."

 

'Resource diplomacy'

 

"Han will be the best man to perform Lee's key national and diplomatic tasks"

Na Kyung-Won, Grand National Party spokeswoman
As prime minister, he said he will play a key role in securing a stable supply of energy and other resources to reduce South Korea's over-dependence on oil and gas imports.

 

"Resources are indispensable to our economy. I'm ready to criss-cross the globe to engage in resource diplomacy," said Han. "South Korea, which depends on [imported] gas and crude oil, must diversify its energy sources."

 

Han, 71, has served as ambassador to the US from 1993-94, finance minister from 1996-1997 and foreign minister from 2001-2002. He was elected to preside over the UN General Assembly from 2001-2002.

 

Critics have said that Han is "past-oriented" and had once worked for Chun Doo-hwan who seized the presidency after crushing a pro-democracy uprising in 1980.

 

But Na Kyung-Won, a spokeswoman for Lee's party, defended the nomination saying that "his capabilities have already been verified".

 

"Han will be the best man to perform Lee's key national and diplomatic tasks."

 

Lee, who will assume South Korea's presidency on February 25, has promised to further deregulate and stimulate private investment to overcome what he says is a looming global economic crisis.

 

He is expected to name other cabinet members and senior aides in the next few weeks.