7 November 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised Asia for its contribution to the United Nations while emphasizing the potentially greater international role that could be played by the world’s largest and most populous continent. In an address to the Asia Society in New York, Mr. Ban, the first UN Secretary-General from Asia since the 1960s, pointed out that the continent has the fastest growing economy of any in the world. “We have a rich history and an ancient culture. Yet in international affairs, our role is far less than it could be,” he told the gathering. “Asia’s contribution to the United Nations, though significant, could be much greater,” Mr. Ban said. “Asia does not do itself justice. As an Asian Secretary-General, I hope to see this change. I hope to see an Asia that is both better integrated and more internationally engaged.” The Secretary-General also paid tribute to United States Ambassador Christopher Hill, praising the diplomat’s “persistence and skilful negotiation” in the six-party talks on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Mr. Ban said it is “encouraging that North Korea has now begun to dismantle its nuclear facilities,” adding that if the process concludes successfully, it could be possible to transform the six-party mechanism – which brings together the two Koreas, China, Japan, the Russian Federation and the US – into a more permanent security framework for North-East Asia.