New York, Jun 21: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his excitement at the first International Day of Yoga during his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, saying the day has garnered "unprecedented" enthusiasm from people around the world.
Ban called on Swaraj in the evening here yesterday at the Manhattan hotel where the Indian leader is staying. He warmly greeted her with a "Namaste, kya haal chaal hain" as he shook her hands. [Live Updates: International Yoga Day]
Ban, accompanied by senior UN officials, congratulated Swaraj on the commemoration of the first International Day of Yoga. "I am also very much excited," he said.
The UN chief told her that the world body had been observing many international days on various themes but the excitement and enthusiasm for the yoga day is unprecedented.
"(There is) a lot of enthusiasm. We have been observing many international days on something but this one (yoga day) is unprecedented, most exciting," he said.
Ban said he had been told that nearly two billion people would have participated in the yoga day across the world by the end of June 21. Swaraj informed Ban that 192 countries, with the only exception of Yemen, will be commemorating yoga day.
Ban also thanked Swaraj for the"excellent arrangement" and hospitality during his visit to India in January this year. He said he had the opportunity to meet prime minister Narendra Modi again in Seoul in May.
Swaraj exchanged pleasantries with the UN chief. Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also met Ban when the UN chief arrived to meet Swaraj.
Accompanying Swaraj were India's ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji, deputy permanent representative Bhagwant Bishnoi and other senior Indian officials.
Ban and Swaraj then held closed door discussions. Swaraj arrived yesterday to preside over the yoga day celebrations at the UN and across the city. She is expected to meet UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa tomorrow before returning to India.
Earlier in the day, Swaraj addressed an event organised by Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti where she said yoga makes body, mind and soul healthy and helps instill positive thinking.
According to a statement by the organisation, Swaraj said that yoga is a valuable gift to the world and humanity and its practice creates healthy and prosperous society.
She said yoga being celebrated across the world following a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a matter of pride.
The event was also attended by Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti founder Acharya Lokesh Muni. Muni said yoga can help solve global problems if it is introduced in the education system.
Yoga should be made a part of lifestyle for complete and balanced development, he emphasised.