UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged North Korea to resume stalled talks with the US and South Korea, stressing that diplomacy is the “only pathway” to achieve sustainable peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
“In 2018, leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and the United States showed that dialogue is possible and that diplomacy is the only pathway to sustainable peace and denuclearization,” said Guterres, using the North’s and South’s official names, in his special video message for the Korean Global Forum for Peace, an annual forum organized by Seoul’s Unification Ministry. “It is important for the parties to continue what they started. The international community is eager to see progress.”
He added that the Panmunjom Declaration, adopted during the 2018 inter-Korean summit, had circulated as an official document of the UN’s General Assembly and Security Council, marking an important step for peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
“But more is needed,” he said. “I urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resume talks with the other parties.”
The US-North Korea talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs have been at a standstill since last year, when a summit in Vietnam between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal. The two sides failed to narrow their differences over the extent of sanctions relief that should be provided in exchange for the North giving up its nuclear capabilities.
Inter-Korean ties have also remained chilly since the summit collapse, with the tension culminating this June when Pyongyang demolished an inter-Korean liaison office.
Guterres also expressed support for Seoul‘s push for cross-border cooperation on public health and other humanitarian areas to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters.
“You have our solidarity as the Korean Peninsula faces the pandemic, floods and typhoons,” he said. “It is crucial that the two Koreas address these and other challenges together.”
During the forum, Unification Minister Lee In-young also vowed to push for humanitarian assistance and exchange with the North, restart dialogue between the two Koreas and implement the agreements made by the two Koreas.
“These projects will not only address issues such as health and medicine, disease control and climate change that affect our daily lives, but will also foster meaningful cooperation that will further open the path towards peaceful coexistence,” he said, adding the “reciprocal cooperation” could pave the way for the stalled denuclearization talks between US and North Korea.
“It is our responsibility to open a new era of complete, verifiable, and irreversible peace led by the two Koreas and assisted by the international community through its cooperation,” Lee said, expressing hope that the North will respond.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org