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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

New Delhi (India)

31 October 2008

Opening remarks at press conference in New Delhi

[Unofficial transcript]

Distinguished members of the press, good afternoon,

Namaste ji. Kya hal chal hai? (Greetings. How are you?) Mera naam Ban Ki-moon hai. (My name is Ban Ki-moon)

Before I begin my press conference, as I mentioned in my statement yesterday, I would like to express my deep sorrow and sympathy to the Government and people of India, for the loss of life and destruction caused by the series of bombings in Assam. I strongly condemn such acts of terrorism targeting civilians. There can be absolutely no justification whatsoever for such indiscriminate violence.

It fills me with pleasure, and a sense of history, to have arrived in India on the 63rd anniversary of your country’s admission into the United Nations. I was only a year old when India became a UN Member State, and it is truly impressive how much this country has achieved since then, as a leading voice in the developing world, as a long-established democracy and as a growing economic power.

I particularly appreciate India’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations around the world. India is currently providing more than 8,000 military personnel, making it the third-largest troop contributor. This country’s contribution has helped to make our peacekeeping operations more effective in some of the world’s toughest places, from the former Yugoslavia a decade ago to the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.

Just last week, the entire world could measure India’s progress simply by looking up at the night sky, knowing that India had successfully launched its first mission to the Moon. I wish India every success as that space mission proceeds; this achievement is truly one for the entire world, as we all stand to benefit from the scientific research that the Chandrayaan spacecraft will make. I have no doubt that India will continue to advance peace and stability in the region as it will contribute to advancing the peaceful uses of outer space.

I have also been impressed by India’s progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. I am concerned, however, that the recent global food price hike has slowed this progress and the MDGs will be adversely affected. This is why I have been calling on the industrialized countries to make sure that the financial crisis does not affect their commitment to supporting developing nations as we all try to make sure that the Millennium Development Goals can be implemented on schedule. I will continue to push that issue next month, during the Financing for Development Conference in Doha.

I am delighted to have met with so many senior leaders of Indian government, including President [Pratibha] Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister [Pranab] Mukherjee, during my brief visit here. I also had a good discussion on climate change with a group of leading CEOs led by Dr. Pachauri. Our discussions have reaffirmed my belief that, as India reaps the benefit of its economic growth and its commitment to democracy, it stands ready to play a greater role on the world stage – one in which it can use the wisdom that its people have amassed over the millennia to promote democracy, multilateralism, tolerance and self-reliance and reinforce universal values which are so much part of India’s cultural fabric.

Finally I want to thank the government and people of India for the warm welcome you have extended for my visit and to the United Nations as a whole. I am extremely grateful to India for its strong support to the United Nations in many areas. I want to stress that India has been, and still is, a very engaged partner in international affairs. The United Nations counts on India as an enduring partner in facing ever more complex global challenges.

Before I take your questions, let me pay tribute to the late Indira Gandhi, who died 24 years ago today and who showed how far women can go, even in a world that has a long way to go in ensuring their equal rights.

I will be happy to answer your questions.

Dhanyavad. Thank you.