The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2008

President Bush Exchanges Toasts at U.N. General Assembly Dinner
United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York

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     Fact sheet In Focus: Global Diplomacy

7:45 P.M. EDT

SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON: Distinguished head of state and government; distinguished ministers; Mr. President of General Assembly; Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen; dear friends. Welcome to the United Nations.

I think of this as an annual family reunion. We meet once in this house, home to all nations, to discuss our common concerns to lay out our priorities to chart a way forward.

This year, as I told the General Assembly this morning, our family has multiple crises to confront. That makes our U.N. more indispensable than ever. We may have different positions and perspectives on the issues before us, but we all have one thing in common: A stake in global solutions toward indisputably global problems. Such solutions can be provided only by the United Nations, the world's only universal institutions.

In this way, our shared interest is also our self-interest. Whether we are talking about climate change or terrorism or threats to human health, we all live with the consequences of these challenges. We all need to invest in common approaches to address them. I think we all know this in principle; the hard part is remembering it when we need to put it in practice in the heat of negotiations, when the temptation is to stick to an entrenched position. That is why it is so heartening to see the high level of representation in this room.

As Secretary General of the United Nations, I really appreciate your taking time amidst your very heavy state affairs. You know you can afford to compromise, and this is the real test of your leadership.

Excellencies, let me say a special thanks -- even though there are so many leaders here -- to President Bush, who is attending his last General Assembly as a head of state of the host country to the United Nations. Mr. President, I am grateful for the support you have provided since I took office as Secretary General, to me personally, as well as to the United Nations. I wish you the very best in your life after the White House. You are welcome to visit United Nations anytime. (Laughter and applause.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you.

SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON: Finally, we, too, are saying goodbye to our house -- or rather, au voir, as you may be already aware, this may be -- this is the last time for several years for us to meet in this historic building and dine in this magnificent room. We will have to move to a temporary building next year, by the time when you come to attend this General Assembly.

Next year, as the renovation of our headquarters will be full swing, we will be gathering in a temporary building on the north lawn, which is now being constructed.

As we fondly look around us today, let us also look to the move as a powerful symbol of change amid continuity. We'll be back here in 2013.

Excellencies, I'd like to propose a toast for the continued success and prosperity of all of us and United Nations, and stronger partnership between the respective countries and the United Nations, and peace and stability in development of humanity. Thank you very much and -- (speaking French.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary General, this is my eighth chance to welcome you to New York, and I am honored to do so. You did mention, I'm heading into retirement -- (laughter) -- but it has been a joy to work with you, the staff, and many of the leaders here in this hall.

It is my honor to propose a toast, Mr. Secretary General, to you and to your hard work. May God bless all in the room, Mr. Secretary General, and may God continue to bless you, sir.

(A toast was offered.)

END 7:51 P.M. EDT


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