UN Chief Open to Visiting North Korea

Posted October 30th, 2012 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he would consider a trip to North Korea as part of his efforts toward peace on the Korean peninsula.

Mr. Ban, a South Korean, made his comments Tuesday at South Korea's National Assembly where he received the 2012 Seoul Peace Prize. He was the first U.N. chief to address the body.

“I will spare no effort to help both the South and the North move toward eventual reunification and a Korean peninsula that is peaceful and free of nuclear weapons. As secretary-general, I am committed to doing my utmost to play any role in helping to advance peace on the Korean peninsula. That includes visiting North Korea, under the right conditions.”

He also said he looks forward to the day when North Korea “heeds the international community's call” by giving up its nuclear weapons and improving the lives of its people.

Mr. Ban was chosen for the Seoul Peace Prize because of what the selection committee called his “outstanding achievements in resolving and preventing international conflicts.” He is the first Korean to receive the prize.

The two Koreas have been technically in a state of war for more than 60 years. The agreement that ended the 1950-53 civil war was only a truce.

In his speech Tuesday in Seoul, Mr. Ban addressed global issues including economy and conflict. He said there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria and he urged the government and the opposition to end bloodshed. He also called for a concerted global effort to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.

The U.N. chief also said that human dignity must be enhanced by implementing U.N. recommendations on periodic review of human rights.