Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York City

September 21, 1999

Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished leaders: Tomorrow we will be exactly 100 days away from the beginning of the new millennium. The calendar tells us how old the world is, but we are thinking about something fresh, something new. And it is altogether fitting that we should be here at the United Nations, which is a very young attempt by the world to make ourselves better and to make our children's future brighter.

I would like to say how deeply pleased I am that the United Nations is being led today by a man of the ability and character of the Secretary-General. He continues to speak and act with authority. He said recently that the aim of the U.N. Charter is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them. He reminded us that even in these times of phenomenal prosperity, half of all humanity subsists on less than $3 a day.

So, Mr. Secretary-General, I thank you for your leadership and your direction.

Let me say that I'm thinking, myself, also a lot about the future. And I plan to be, at least part of the time, a future resident of New York. Now, when I move here, I will be able to complain about all the traffic jams around the U.N.—[laughter]—and all those important people who keep me from getting to my appointed rounds. If I get very upset, I may even write a letter to my United States Senator. [Laughter]

But let me say, again, in all candor, the United States is humbled and honored to host the United Nations. We are honored to be a part of your leadership for peace in East Timor and in so many other places. And we look forward to going into a new century, to a new millennium, to a new era, with your leadership.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me in a toast to the Secretary-General and the United Nations.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:42 p.m. in the North Delegates Lounge at the United Nations. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Secretary-General Annan.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Luncheon Hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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