UN chief calls for ′peaceful denuclearization′ of Korean peninsula | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 02.02.2018
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UN chief calls for 'peaceful denuclearization' of Korean peninsula

The UN secretary-general has vowed to "do everything possible" to encourage a peaceful solution to the Korean conflict. North Korea has asked the UN to consider "welcoming" the thawing of relations on the peninsula.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said it was critical that international stakeholders take advantage of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea to pursue peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"Our objective remains the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Guterres said. "For that, it is absolutely essential that serious discussions take place among the key actors in this process and the UN will do everything possible to encourage them in that regard."

Read more: North Korea: From war to nuclear weapons

The UN chief will make an official visit to South Korea next week to meet with leaders in the country's capital, Seoul, ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

'Positive atmosphere'

Guterres' push for talks to end tension on the Korean peninsula comes a day after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho urged the UN Security Council to discuss "welcoming" a thawing of relations on both sides of the Korean demilitarized zone.

Read more: The North Korea crisis: 10 questions, 10 answers

"Owing to our magnanimous initiative, good results are borne in the inter-Korean dialogue, thus giving joy to all fellow countrymen, and a positive atmosphere in favor of improving inter-Korean relations is created," said Ri.

Tensions have subsided since Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to hold officials talks in January. North Korea later confirmed its participation in the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

However, Pyongchang is concerned over US plans to hold a "large-scale aggressive joint military exercise" following the sports competition, Ri noted.

Under pressure

Despite thawing relations, the US and its allies have continued to pressure the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Last month, 20 countries agreed to consider fresh sanctions against Pyongyang during a US-Canadian summit. The summit had been planned after North Korea launched its most advanced ballistic missile in November, increasing tensions across the region.

Read more: Which US cities could North Korea's ballistic missile hit?

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned that North Korea "could very soon threaten our homeland" with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea warned against such statements, saying it could undermine "inter-Korean dialogue."

Infographic showing the range of North Korea's missile arsenal

ls/sms (AFP, AP)

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