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Ban vows all-out support for Koreas' thaw

U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday vowed to commit himself to improving strained Inter-Korea relations during his meeting with the ruling party’s chief in New York.

“I am more than willing to play any role in bringing North Korea back to talks and improving South-North relations,” Ban said in a closed-door meeting with the ruling Saenuri Party chairman Kim Moo-Sung at the United Nations headquarters.

“Marking the 70th anniversary of the U.N. and the division of two Koreas this year, I hope it will be the year that situations improve on the Korean peninsula. I will continue to give my support to realize (the South Korean) government’s vision for the peace,” said Ban.



U.S. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon(right) and Saenuri Party Leader Rep. Kim Moo-sung.
U.S. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon(right) and Saenuri Party Leader Rep. Kim Moo-sung.
  Ban had planned on visiting North Korea’s border city of Gaeseong last May on the occasion of his visit to the South to attend a forum. But the visit, which was hoped to defrost tension between the two Koreas, was cancelled at the last minute by the North.

Ban and Kim’s meeting lasted for about 45 minutes as watchers back home pointed to the two as strong presidential hopefuls. Kim has been taking the lead in the latest polls for the next president, while Ban has also been a longtime favorite among voters despite his denial of having any domestic political plans.

Saenuri Party officials accompanying Kim said domestic politics was not broached in the two‘s conversation.Separately, Kim was quoted as telling Korean correspondents in New York, “I am not yet qualified to be the presidential candidate.”

“My priority is to get the conservative right-wing Saenuri Party’s hold on power. The issue of whether I would become the president or not is a next question,” said Kim, whose U.S. visit has been widely perceived as part of a platform to solidify his conservative support base.

Ban has also repeatedly denied any desire to run for president, saying that he cannot afford to divert his attention away from his work as the U.N. chief. He had asserted that he had no interest in domestic politics and described as “ungrounded” and “underside” the attempt to brand him as a contender for the next presidency.

During the meeting, both reaffirmed President Park Geun-hye’s initiative to expand support for impoverished young children in North Korea and assessed the efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and consolidate peace process in the region, UN officials said.

Ban requested the Korean National Assembly’s support to expand Korea’s donations to the Official Development Assistance, foreign aid for economic development of developing countries, while Kim asked Ban to bring more of the international community’s attention to Pyeongyang’s nuclear development, said Kim Yong-woo, spokesperson of the Saenuri Party.   

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)



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