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The Quest for Peace and Prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Beyond

Speech by H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea.

Address to Asia Society
New York
September 25, 2006

Thank you, Mr. Ferguson, for the kind introduction.

Dr. Desai, President of the Asia Society, Ambassador Holbrooke, Chairman of the Asia Society, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would first like to thank Dr. Desai, Ambassador Holbrooke and the Asia Society for inviting me to speak tonight. I remember well the very enjoyable evening I had with President Desai and Vice President Metzl in Seoul last July. I remain grateful for the exchange of insightful and informed views.

Today, I have a few topics that I want to discuss. But first, I would like to say a few words about the Asia Society and its unique contributions to Asia-US relations.

As we all know, when John Rockfeller III founded the Asia Society in 1956, he did so with the conviction that Americans needed to engage Asia on multiple fronts. In keeping with his philosophy and ideas, the Asia Society has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about Asia among Americans and to strengthen relations between Asia and the United States.

In an effort to deepen mutual understanding, the Asia Society has introduced many programs widely known for their excellence. In particular, I would like to applaud the annual Williamsburg Conference, which has become a forum for high-calibre strategic dialogue among policy-makers and opinion leaders throughout Asia and the United States.

This year, the Asia Society marks its 50th anniversary. Taking this opportunity, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Desai, Ambassador Holbrooke and all members of the Asia Society. The Society is celebrating its 50th birthday with the launch of many new initiatives, such as the " Asia 21 Young Leaders Forum". Korea is honored to host the first Forum in Seoul coming November. Prime Minister Han Myeong Sook will deliver a keynote speech at the Forum.

Another ambitious project will be the opening of the Asia Society Seoul Center in 2007. The launch of the Center will be, I am sure, a milestone that signals even closer and busier ties between Korea and the Asia Society in the years and decades ahead.