Official visit to Korea: Speech at official banquet
Your Excellency Mr Prime Minster,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure and anticipation that the Crown Princess and I have arrived in the Republic of Korea for our first visit to your country. We are very pleased to have been invited, and look forward to getting to know the Land of the Morning Calm and its people over the next few days. I know that we will have an interesting and eventful stay, and I sincerely hope that this visit will serve to stimulate the development of even deeper ties between our two countries.
During our stay in Korea, the Crown Princess and I will visit the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan to commemorate Norways contribution to the Republic of Korea during the Korean War, and to pay our respects to those who gave their lives. It was during the Korean War that a Norwegian field hospital laid the foundations for the strong personal ties and friendships that today exist between Norwegians and Koreans. Since that time, our bilateral relations have expanded greatly, not only in the business sector, but also politically.
The world faces many challenges today. Beside environmental and economic challenges, peace and stability demand our attention and require action. Your country faces daily the reality of division and conflict. You know better than almost any other nation what it means to not be at peace with ones neighbour. Yet I would like to take the opportunity to honour the way in which the Republic of Korea has reached out to the North. That speaks volumes about the empathy and solidarity of the Koreans and about your willingness to work for peace, stability and democracy.
Todays global challenges call for global solutions, implemented through international cooperation. The Republic of Korea is an important actor on the international scene, and the election of Mr Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General of the United Nations has focused even greater attention on this nation.
The United Nations has been a cornerstone of Norways foreign policy since its inception, when a Norwegian, Trygve Lie, served as Secretary-General. A straight line can be drawn from Mr Trygve Lie to the current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Norway will continue its strong support of the UN, and looks forward to working closely with your former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in his new capacity.
During this visit, I will be speaking to a group of university students on Promoting peace and development: Norways policy of engagement. The promotion of peace and development is a global issue, and efforts in this area must be based on international cooperation. I am therefore very much looking forward to hearing what the next generation of Korean leaders have to say about it.
Over the last 50 years, we have witnessed remarkable achievements by the Republic of Korea, not least in terms of economic development. Your country is today among the worlds leading economic powers, and has become Norways third-largest trading partner in Asia. The free trade agreement that was concluded between the EFTA countries and the Republic of Korea last year will serve to further strengthen these ties. Representatives of the large, high-level Norwegian business delegation that will be visiting Seoul and Busan will discuss with their Korean counterparts how to further increase the trade between our two countries. I wish them success in their deliberations.
I would like you to join me in a toast to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea and the Korean people, and to the lasting friendship between our nations.