The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
September 19, 2006

President Bush and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan Exchange Toasts at United Nations Luncheon
United Nations
New York, New York

2:14 P.M. EDT

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. I am honored to welcome all of you to the United Nations and for this general debate. I'm sorry if we've starved some of you, but that's the way we work here in this house every day, and sometimes we go without lunch. (Laughter.)

First, let me say a warm thank you to President Bush and the people of the 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 the 10 years that I have served as Secretary General. And I want to thank you personally for your friendship and encouragement on the very many occasions when we've had to discuss issues, either personally or on the phone.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I have the pleasure and the privilege of receiving you all here, and I hope you will not forget me and I will not forget you. (Laughter.) But for every one of these past 10 years it has been a deeply moving experience to see the family of nations gather here 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 world, so that we can make this indispensable organization, indispensable instrument what it ought to be, in the interests of the people it exists to serve.

Throughout these 10 years, I have tried to support, encourage and advance the process to my best ability. I have sought to work toward the goal I set out in my first speech at the General Assembly after assuming office as Secretary General. And I'm sorry to quote myself, but just to remind us what I said, "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."

Ladies and gentlemen, as with any family, reaching agreement in the family of nations has not always been easy. You need not hear that from me. 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 the family, you know you can always come back.

I am grateful to every one of you for all that you've done to support me and to support this organization over these 10 extraordinary years. I want to thank you for the friendships, many friendships that we have formed over the years and for the understanding that has developed. I wish all of you an evermore fruitful partnership with the United Nations in the years ahead.

Thank you very much for all that you've done. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary General, distinguished members of the United Nations community, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. We're proud to welcome you here to our country.

I'm pleased to be with you at the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly, this year under the President -- under the leadership of President Shaikh Khalifa from Bahrain, the first woman from the Middle East to serve in this position. We welcome her presence on the podium. (Applause.)

Mr. Secretary General, it is appropriate that we offer you a toast today -- a toast based upon our gratitude for your 10 years of service to this important body. We need to toast your compassion when the world saw the United Nations respond to natural disasters. We need to toast your desire for peace. We need to toast the fact that you're a hard worker. For those of you who have had the honor of taking phone calls from Kofi Annan, you know that he's not always calling from the same address. I've talked to him a lot of times during my time as President, and a lot of times my discussions with him came from when he was in far away places, because he cares deeply about the world.

We need to toast the fact that he loves his wife, and his wife loves him. We need to toast the fact that he is a decent, honorable man. We need to raise our glasses to 10 years of extraordinary service and be thankful that a man such as Kofi Annan was willing to stand up and serve the cause of justice and peace.

And so now if you'll join me in a toast to a good man and a good friend, and we ask for God's blessings on you.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

END 2:19 P.M. EDT

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