President Vladimir Putin: Mr Minister, dear colleagues,
Allow me to wish you a warm welcome.
It is a great pleasure for us to receive you in Moscow in the double capacity of minister of your country, a country with which our relations have been developing well over recent years, and as Secretary General-elect of the United Nations.
I would like to begin by saying that we are happy with the development of relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea. We know that you have made a considerable personal contribution to this development. Our bilateral trade is now approaching the $10-billion mark and we have regular political contacts.
I remember my visit to your country and the great amount of work that it achieved. I hope to meet with the President of South Korea very soon during the APEC summit in Vietnam.
I would like to thank our Korean colleagues for taking part in the rescue of our seamen in the Far East from the vessel ‘Sinegorye’. This is just the way good neighbours should act and you should have no doubt that if we are ever able to do anything for you in a similar situation, you can count on our help and support.
We are following developments on the Korean Peninsula very attentively, including the situation with the North Korean nuclear programme.
Finally, we have always worked fruitfully together within the UN framework and we supported the election of an Asian secretary general of the organisation right from the start.
It will be my pleasure to exchange views with you on the prospects for our cooperation in the international organisation framework.
Ban Ki-Moon (Translated from Russian): First of all, I would like to thank you for finding the time to meet with me despite your busy schedule, and I would also like to thank you for your personal message of congratulations.
Russia supported an Asian candidate for the post of secretary general right from the outset. You also supported my election to the post of UN secretary general, and I would like once again to thank you for this.
As UN secretary general, I will work closely with Russia on strengthening the UN secretariat and the organisation as a whole.
The President of the Republic of Korea, Mr Roh Moo Hyun, considers relations and contacts between Russia and Korea to be of great importance. Our relations have been developing with particular success since your visit to Korea. Our President is happy with this and hopes that our relations will reach a new level of cooperation and partnership.