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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 25, 2007
President Bush and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Exchange Toasts
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
8:44 P.M. EDT
SECRETARY GENERAL BAN: Good evening. Distinguished heads of state and government, Mr. President of General Assembly, distinguished ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, allow me to warmly welcome all of you to the United Nations.
Excellencies, this is your house as much as mine. I want all of you feel at home here. And I'm grateful to President Bush -- let me thank you for your strong support for the United Nations as a head of state of the host country of the United Nations. Had I known that you were going to host very good dinner then I should have been able to save the budget of the United Nations. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much for your generosity and hospitality. I hope such generosity and hospitality will continue in the years to come.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, I'm delighted that so many of you are presented at the highest level for what is an exceptionally busy general debate season. In addition to attending the Assembly itself, many of you are engaged in our common efforts on Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, and elsewhere. Even more joined our -- even more joined our high-level event on climate change yesterday. Some of you are convening meetings on other crucial issues, from Kosovo to peace and security in Africa. All of you share the understanding that we are here because we all have a shared mission and goals to build a peace in the broadest sense of the word.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we look around us in this imposing room and these unparalleled views of the East River, we are reminded that the United Nations building is, in itself, a treasure and a triumph. As history has been written in its halls, its beauty has stood the test of time. But meanwhile, the building has fallen precariously behind the health, fire, and building safety standards.
That is why I am profoundly grateful to all of you for your generous support in the work to save and make safe our U.N. house. In fact, my wife and I moved just about two weeks ago to a newly-renovated official residence of Secretary General in Sutton Place. We had been living at the Waldorf=Astoria hotel for about 11 month waiting this renovation be made.
Now my next mission is to renovate whole of this U.N. building, including General Assembly hall. The renovation of this building, which will take about seven years, according to -- approved by the General Assembly schedules, but I have a plan, as a part of reform again, to shorten it maybe four to five years. Let us see.
In any case, the renovation will begin sometime next year. By the time you attend the General Assembly next year, you may have to deliver your speech at a temporary General Assembly hall, which we are now going to build. This may cause some inconvenience, disruptions, but I hope you will bear with that.
We are going to build a new temporary General Assembly hall in the north lawn here. I thank you in advance for your patience at the disruption the renovation will cause. Believe me, I'm already having sleepless nights about the logistics of this exercise. Maybe all of our staff may have to move out to somewhere in Manhattan, so there will be much inconvenience.
But it is necessary. I hope we will all be able to draw inspiration from it. I hope that as we renovate our house, we'll also renew our commitment and revitalize our organization to build a stronger U.N. for a better world.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to wish all of you good luck and continued good health and success and prosperity in the important days ahead. It will be one of the biggest general debate seasons for many years, and it will mean hard work for all of us, but I know it will be worth it.
Excellencies, dear friends, please join me in a toast to the United Nations, our common home, (speaking French), and thank you very much.
(A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, distinguished members of the United Nations community, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen: It's my pleasure to welcome you to New York. We look forward to concluding a successful 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly under the leadership of President Kerim.
Mr. Secretary-General: I appreciate your determination to ensure that the United Nations lives up to its high ideals, takes responsibilities seriously, and helps more people live in freedom and justice. You have urged this organization to help the suffering people of Darfur. You have strengthened international resolve to deter regimes pursuing the world's most dangerous weapons. You have supported freedom and independence for the people of Lebanon, and Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Under your leadership, the United Nations is addressing global challenges, such as the important issue of climate change. I welcome your efforts to advance the work of U.N. reform and uphold the highest ethical standards throughout this organization.
So, Mr. Secretary-General, in honor of your first year of leadership, and in anticipation of your continued leadership in the years to come, I offer a toast to you and to the United Nations.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
END 8:52 P.M. EDT