14 May 2003

Secretary-General Praises "Exceptional Contribution" of Republic of Korea to United Nations, in Message to Korea Society Dinner

NEW YORK, 13 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the annual dinner of the Korea Society, in honour of Roh Moo-hyun, President of the Republic of Korea, delivered by Maurice F. Strong, Special Adviser and Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, in New York on 12 May:

I am delighted to convey my warmest wishes to this event in honour of His Excellency Roh Moo-hyun, President of the Republic of Korea.

Above all, I wish to express my deep appreciation for the exceptional contribution that the Republic of Korea is making to the United Nations. A true believer in our Organization, the Republic of Korea is playing an increasingly active part in every aspect of our work -- be it peacekeeping in Timor-Leste, humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, or preventive action in Northeast Asia.

The Republic of Korea commands growing respect worldwide for its impressive progress in consolidating democracy and for its role as a global economic powerhouse. Let me also commend President Roh for his visionary policy of "peace and prosperity". The Government responded swiftly and generously to my appeal to help prevent a humanitarian disaster in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. I also appreciate the President's constructive support for United Nations activities in North Korea. We support the key role played by the Republic of Korea in matters of peace and security on the Peninsula, and its determination to pursue inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.

Today, there is a consensus in the international community that the Korean Peninsula should be free from nuclear weapons, and that this should be achieved by peaceful means. I am hopeful that the recent trilateral talks in Beijing mark the beginning of a diplomatic process that will lead to a resolution of the matter, and I continue to offer my full support to that process. Inevitably, the process will be difficult and even frustrating at times. But there is no alternative to it, and the international consensus I have pointed to must remain the source of our optimism.

As we look to the humanitarian and longer-term economic development needs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, I believe the United Nations system is uniquely placed to be effective in mobilizing international assistance on both counts. Although long-term economic assistance on the scale required can occur only after the current security crisis is resolved, the work to prepare for it must begin now. In that context, we continue to rely heavily on the cooperation and steadfast support of the Republic of Korea.

It is my fervent hope that the resolution of the current crisis will lead to a process culminating in permanent peace and stability on the Peninsula, with prosperity for all Korean people. I am determined to work together with the Republic of Korea and other countries concerned towards this goal.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to another friend of the United Nations -- Donald Gregg, President and Chairman of the Board of the Korea Society. Under Donald Gregg's leadership, the Korea Society is providing a shining example of the role a non-governmental organization can play in promoting understanding, dialogue, human dignity and peace. I thank you for your commitment, and wish you all a splendid evening.

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