4 May 2001


NEW YORK, 3 May (UN Headquqarters) -- Following is the text of remarks made today in New York by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a luncheon hosted by the Council of American Ambassadors:

I am very pleased to join you today, and to see so many old friends meeting at the United Nations. I do not need to tell you about the historic ties binding the United Nations and the United States, not least because so many of you played a vital role in making this bond as strong as it is today.

Nor do I need to tell you about the challenges in our relationship over the past decade, since so many of you served as vital interlocutors between the United Nations and Washington during this period. But let me thank you for your part in helping resolve the dues question, and also pay tribute to Ambassador Holbrooke for his tireless efforts to remove this needless irritant from what was and remains a very special relationship.

Thanks to him, and to you, I believe our special relationship is beginning a new decade on a better footing, with greater mutual understanding and appreciation. I have had the opportunity to meet with President Bush, Secretary Powell and other members of the new administration.

I was deeply gratified to hear them promise to support the United Nations, and to work with us on a number of issues of mutual concern -– from HIV-AIDS to conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

Globalization may well be transforming our lives in myriad ways, and the information revolution is certainly deepening our knowledge -- if not our understanding -- of events taking place on the other side of the world. What has not changed is the role of diplomat -- as interlocutor, as listener and prodder, as advocate and bridge-builder between nations and peoples.

We need only to look at the incident over the United States plane in China and the critical role played by the United States Ambassador in Beijing to see that such a figure is indispensable in times of crisis, as in times of friendship.

The success of the United Nations relies very heavily on the work of diplomats and civil servants, and just as heavily on our friends and allies outside the Organization. We will therefore continue to rely on your support in carrying forward our aims in the areas of poverty reduction, peacekeeping, the environment and human rights.

I wish you all success in your important mission, and look forward to building ever stronger ties between your Council and the United Nations.

Thank you very much.

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