United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Seoul early on the morning of Wednesday, 10 November, after a flight from New York.
On arrival, the Secretary-General made brief remarks to waiting South Korean media in Korean, outlining the main purpose of his visit — to attend the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit and to ensure that the voices of the world’s most vulnerable people were heard. Later that morning, the Secretary-General met Lee Myung-bak, the President of the Republic of Korea, at the Presidential Blue House. The Secretary-General welcomed the country’s hosting of the G-20 Seoul Summit and the inclusion of development into the G-20 agenda, and Korea’s active and expanding role in the United Nations. The Secretary-General and the President agreed that the G-20 and the United Nations complement and reinforce each other’s efforts on development. The Secretary-General and the President exchangedviews on the situation on the Korean peninsula and on North-East Asia regional cooperation.
The Secretary-General then gave a press conference at the nearby Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where he said he would ensure the leaders of the world’s biggest and strongest economies built solutions for the poorest and the most vulnerable people around the world into their plans, not least to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Next, the Secretary-General attended a working lunch at the official residence of Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik. The Secretary-General encouraged the country to contribute still further to the United Nations agenda – notably in the area of the Millennium Development Goals, maternal and children’s health, HIV/AIDS, peacekeeping and human rights. They agreed on the importance of the Republic of Korea increasing its official development assistance (ODA), especially to Africa. They exchanged views on the situation on the Korean peninsula, as well as regional security in North-East Asia. They discussed other regional topics, including Somalia and piracy, and Sudan, and global themes including nuclear security.
Later the same day the Secretary-General gave several interviews to Korean television networks and met Klaus Schwab, the Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
On Thursday, 11 November, the Secretary-General attended a working breakfast with the Millennium Club, which brings together influential leaders in the Republic of Korea. He made remarks in Korean, outlining the importance of development being on the agenda at the G-20 Summit and of Korea’s growing role in the United Nations.
The Secretary-General next held a bilateral meeting with the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. In wide-ranging talks, the Secretary-General and the President discussed the G-20 Summit, development, the Millennium Development Goals, the Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel, climate change and regional African concerns. The Secretary-General congratulated President Zuma on South Africa’s election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council at a crucial time for Africa and the rest of the world.
After attending a working lunch on Millennium Development Goals, the Secretary-General attended a major event at the National Assembly(Parliament) of the Republic of Korea. The event was organized by the National Assembly’s Millennium Development Goal forum, which includes many of the members of parliament. The President of South Africa, the Prime Minister of Spain and the Prime Minister of Viet Nam also attended the event.
In a speech, the Secretary-General said his homeland was on the rise and that it is now fulfilling its role as a bridge builder — a vital link between the developed and developing world, a crucial connector between the work of the G-20 and the rest of the globe, the United Nations. (See Press Release SG/SM/13242) He also met the Speaker of the National Assembly, Park Hee-tai.
The Secretary-General later gave an interview to CNN International and met with Fulvio Conti, Chairperson of ENEL and a prominent player in the Global Compact. That evening, the Secretary-General attended a G-20 welcoming reception at the National Museum of Korea and working dinner with G-20 leaders.
On Friday, 12 November, the Secretary-General attended the G-20 Summit. He opened the third session, on development, and also spoke at the working lunch on climate change and green growth. In his remarks on development, the Secretary-General said the Republic of Korea had proved it was possible to eliminate poverty — it had moved from aid recipient to donor. He said G-20 leaders were sending a strong message that development was not a side issue, and that investing in development was investing in everyone’s future. The G-20 focus on development was also an essential contribution to the Action Plan adopted at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York in September. (See Press Release SG/SM/13244)
In his separate remarks on climate change, the Secretary-General said we need to move forward on efforts to protect forests and on finance, adaptation and technology cooperation. He said we can and must move on these items now, even as Governments continue to press forward on thornier political issues. He also asked G‑20 leaders to increase investment in research and development into green technologies and energy efficiency, noting the Republic of Korea was a case in point. (See Press Release SG/SM/13264)
After the Summit, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They agreed to use the momentum of the Millennium Development Goals Summit and G-20 Summit on the development agenda towards successfully hosting the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, to be held in Istanbul in May 2011. They also exchanged views in detail on Cyprus. The Secretary-General said a solution was long overdue and that he decided to host the forthcoming trilateral talks in New York on 18 November with the leaders of the two communities. They also discussed the Middle East, Pakistan and Lebanon, including the Special Tribunal, and the United Nations–Turkey partnership. Later, the Secretary-General attended a G-20 gala dinner and cultural performance.
On Saturday, the Secretary-General attended a Global Compact breakfast meeting, where he spoke, in Korean, to Korean members of the Global Compact about the importance of the business community in achieving the United Nations goals, especially on development. He later gave a number of press interviews and met United Nations staff based in the Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, departed for New York on the morning of Sunday 14 November, arriving at JFK airport the same day.