Sun 25 Sep, 2011 07:02 pm
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Friday and discussed ways to help people in developing countries in Africa and other parts of the world, a focus of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The meeting took place as Lee stopped in Seattle on his way home from New York. It was their third meeting so far since Gates visited South Korea in May 2008, when Gates agreed to act as Lee's global adviser.
In January last year, they met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, and reached a consensus on the need to set an example to end poverty in Africa. Since then, the South Korean government and the Gates foundation have been working on the project after selecting Ethiopia as its subject.
Lee has said it was because of Gates' recommendation that he did volunteer work during his trip to Africa in July.
"As I promised when we met at the Davos Forum, I did volunteer work in Ethiopia," Lee said at the start of the meeting. "I worked hard and I think it is not easy to have such an experience. Schedule-wise, it was difficult (to make time for volunteer work) but I went there as I understood your message."
Gates said in response, "It's fantastic."
In Friday's meeting, Lee praised Gates for pushing for a series of global health and development projects, and explained to him that South Korea has also been trying to help developing countries, including its planned hosting of the high-level forum on aid effectiveness later this year, according to the presidential office.
Gates briefed Lee on the projects his foundation has been working on and its plans for the future, and the two exchanged views on the roles South Korean can play in the fields of global health and development as well as how the two sides can cooperate, the office said in a statement.
The Gates Foundation is also a big contributor to the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute (IVI), an international organization devoted exclusively to vaccine research and development for poor populations in developing countries.
Good for Lee! It's nice to see that he engaged on a personal level as well.
I'm confident that President Lee believes it is in the best interests of South Korea for its government to help people in developing countries, but that hardly detracts from the generosity.
Assuming that it is an amount South Korea can afford, it makes perfect economic and political sense