Asia in the World

NEW YORK – Before I became the UN’s Secretary-General, I was an Asian diplomat. While I was foreign minister of the Republic of Korea, my Government and I strongly advocated détente with the North. When some in the world called for sanctions and punitive action, South Korea pushed for dialogue.

That requires listening as well as speaking. It means sticking to principles, but also attempting to understand the other side, however irrational or intransigent it may sometimes appear.

This remains my style at the United Nations. I believe in the power of diplomacy and engagement. I prioritize dialogue over debate or declaration. Above all, I seek results.

We are doing that now in Myanmar. My Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, has been back in Yangon. His brief is to be the honest broker, the facilitator of a dialogue between government and opposition leaders, particularly Aung San Suu Kyi. The goal is for Myanmar’s Government to release all detained students and demonstrators, engage with the opposition, move toward a more democratic society, and rejoin the international community.