UNITED NATIONS - South Korea Friday took over the rotational presidency of the UN Security Council for February after Pakistan piloted the 15-member body last month, drawing praise from diplomats here for the work done.

"During the month of January, the council worked cohesively, efficiently and effectively," Masood Khan, the Pakistan's UN ambassador said on Thursday at a press conference held to mark the end of his presidentship.

“We covered a wide ranging agenda including a number of periodic issues: Sudan and South Sudan, the Middle East, Cyprus, Ivory Coast, Burundi, Darfur (UNAMID), West Africa, Libya and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia,” said Khan. "The Council also focused on Mali, the Central African Republic and Syria, which required its urgent and continuing attention," he added.

Speaking at a reception on Thursday evening, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson praised Pakistan's presidency in the month of January, saying Pakistani diplomacy is well known for its sophistication. "You can be proud of your contribution," he said. The incoming president of the Security Council, South Korea's UN Ambassador Kim Sook, said he had learnt much from the way Ambassador Masood Khan conducted himself as the president of the 15-member body.

The largely attended reception was hosted by Masood Khan to mar the wrapping up of Pakistan's presidency, and attending were heads of diplomatic missions accredited to the United Nations, UN officials and journalists. "Looking back over the month, it was not the usual 'light' January in terms of the council's activities," the Pakistani envoy said. "We had quite a heavy agenda." On Jan 22, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning North Korea's satellite launch on Dec 12. The resolution said called Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology a violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) banning such tests.

During the month, the ambassador said, two important open debates were organized – one on counterterrorism and the other on UN peacekeeping operations, in which Pakistan is a leading troop contributor. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened both the debates, which were held at a high level.

The counterterrorism debate was presided over by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. After the day-long debate, participated by over 50 delegates, the Council stressed in a unanimously agreed presidential statement that terrorism could only be defeated by a “sustained and comprehensive” approach involving the participation and collaboration of all states and international and regional organisations. The debate on peacekeeping was presided over by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani. At the conclusion of the debate, the Council adopted a resolution, the first of its kind in 11 years, which recognised the importance of multidimensional peacekeeping and stressed that peacekeeping activities should be conducted in a manner that facilitated post-conflict peace building, helped prevent a relapse into conflict and assisted progress towards sustainable peace and development.

An exhibition of photographs was also held to mark 53 years of Pakistan’s contribution for the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions, at which the secretary-general was the chief guest. He lauded Pakistan for its commitment to UN peacekeeping, nothing that 9,000 Pakistani troops and other personnel were deployed in eight UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world.

A Pakistan Army delegation, led by the Vice Chief of General Staff General Mazhar Jamil, and Shahzadi Gulfam, an award-winning former Pakistani woman peacekeeper, were among a large and distinguished gathering at the exhibition.