20 September 2006

Secretary-General Thanks Host Country in Final Luncheon Toast to Honour Heads of State, Government, Delegation Chiefs Attending General Assembly Debate

NEW YORK, 19 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's toast at his luncheon in honour of Heads of State and Government attending the sixty-first General Assembly with the participation of heads of delegations, in New York today, 19 September:

I'm honoured to welcome you to the United Nations for this general debate.

First, let me say a warm thank you to President Bush and the people of our host country for their hospitality.  Let me also, through you, Mr. President, thank the American people for being such gracious hosts to the United Nations for all of the 10 years I have served as Secretary-General.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I have the pleasure and a privilege of receiving all of you here.

For every one of these past 10 years, it has been a deeply moving experience to see the family of nations gather in this house.

I have witnessed Governments working through the United Nations to overcome their differences -- for the good of their nations, and for the good of the United Nations.  So that we may make this indispensable instrument as effective as it can be, in the interests of the people it exists to serve.

Throughout these 10 years, I have tried to support, encourage and advance that process to the best of my ability.

I have sought to work towards the goal I set out in my first speech to the General Assembly after assuming office as Secretary-General:  "A United Nations that will view change as a friend, not change for its own sake; but change that permits us to do more by doing what we do better."

As with any family, reaching agreement in the family of nations has not always been easy.

As with any family, members have sometimes become frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned at not getting their way.

But, as with any family, members have always come back to this house.  That is perhaps the best definition of a family.  You know you can always come back.

I am grateful to every one of you for your support over these 10 extraordinary years.  I wish all of you an ever more fruitful partnership with the United Nations in the years ahead.

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