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22 NOVEMBER 2008
UN SECRETARY GENRAL BAN KI-MOON TOUCHED BY RP HOSPITALITY
NEW YORK—United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was profuse in expressing his appreciation to the Philippines, saying he was touched by the kindness and hospitality extended to him during his visit to Manila last month.
"I am touched and deeply honored by how well I was treated and received by the people and the government of the Philippines," the Secretary General told Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban B. Conejos Jr. and Philippine Permanent Representative Hilario G. Davide, Jr. at the United Nations on Friday.
During the 20-minute meeting at his 38th floor office, the Secretary General repeatedly expressed his appreciation to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who accorded him honors befitting a head of state during his visit to Manila from 28 to 30 October to take part in the Second Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD).
According to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, the Secretary General congratulated President Arroyo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and Undersecretary Conejos for the successful Philippine hosting of the GFMD and expressed hope that the Philippines will continue to lend its active support to the forum.
The Secretary General thanked the President not only for receiving him but also for hosting a state dinner and conferring on him the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Rajah—the country's highest decoration of diplomatic merit. He also expressed his appreciation to the University of the Philippines for conferring on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.
"I regard this as a great, great honor," the Secretary General told the two Philippine officials.
Although the Secretary General briefly met President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after addressing last month's meeting of the General Assembly on interfaith dialogue, his meeting with Undersecretary Conejos and Ambassador Davide was the first time he sat down with Filipino officials since arriving from the Philippines last month.
The Secretary General expressed regret that he was not able to spend more time with the President during her stay in New York. He said he went down the podium to greet the President who unfortunately had to leave for Manila immediately after she introduced the Philippine-initiated resolution on the promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.
The Philippine Mission said the Secretary General also took his time in sharing with Undersecretary Conejos and Ambassador Davide what he said were his many good memories about the Philippines as it was the first country he visited in an official capacity as a junior foreign service officer in the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1976. The Philippines was also the first country he visited after he was appointed Foreign Minister in 2004.
The Secretary General also expressed his high regard for Filipinos, describing them as very talented and very sincere. He mentioned his experience working with former Foreign Affairs Secretary and now Ambassador to Berlin Delia D. Albert and former Ambassador to Vienna and now to Paris Jose A. Zaide as well as Filipino members of his staff at the United Nations.###
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