US President George W Bush said he did not oppose the idea of a Muslim being the next UN Secretary General as long as they were willing to "blow the whistle" on human rights abuses.
At the same time, he told a small group of reporters on Monday, two days before leaving for Germany and a group summit in Russia, "we're really looking in the Far East right now" to find a successor to UN chief Kofi Annan.
But asked whether he would oppose a Muslim in principle, Bush replied; "Not at all, would not be against a Muslim."
"The criterion I'm for is somebody who wants to spread liberty and enhance the peace, do difficult things like confront tyranny, worry about the human condition, blow the whistle on human rights violations," he said.
"We will work closely with friends and allies to come up with the best candidate, but we won't be committing publicly, like you're trying to get me to do," he said.