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‘North Korea-US talks absolutely necessary, urgent’: UN chief

UN secretary-general urges nations to observe truce during 2018 PyeongChang Games

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said dialogue between North Korea and the United States is “absolutely necessary” and “urgent” so as to avoid any unpredictable and dangerous situations amid rising tension on the Korean Peninsula, during a lecture on Thursday.

“I think it’s not a question of possibility. This kind of dialogue is absolutely necessary, and it’s urgent because we need to quickly start to have a serious discussion to avoid the kinds of misunderstanding and escalation that can all of a sudden lead to a situation that is unpredictable and very dangerous,” he said in a lecture with youth hosted by a local broadcaster CBS. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development at Yonsei University in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonsei University)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development at Yonsei University in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonsei University)

As for the series of the UN sanctions on the communist regime, he described it as to having created an opportunity to lead to some kind of a political engagement.

“Those sanctions are having a huge (impact) in the country. So I think if the Security Council shows the same unity, the same firmness, North Korea would understand that there’s no way to have economic progress and solutions for their people if they don’t come to have serious dialogue with the international community,” Guterres said, suggesting that is the way to achieve peaceful denuclearization in the North.

Earlier in the day, he had called for all nations to observe the Olympic truce and to transcend political differences during the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a statement, he said the Olympics and Paralympics showcase the best of the world’s athletic achievements and best of humanity, and that it will have more resonance than ever on the Korean Peninsula.

“Its fundamental message is that our common humanity can transcend political differences. I call on all parties to conflict to observe the Olympic truce during the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The UN chief also delivered a speech at a forum in Seoul asking for all sectors to prepare for problems that can occur in the future following great technological development.

“We see the positive sides of the recent development in artificial intelligence, what’s happening in space, and the fantastic results produced in genetic engineering,” he said at the first Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development held at Yonsei University in Seoul. “But on the other hand, we see how these can bring potential, dramatic threats in labor markets, in society, in fragile countries. We should not only respond to the problems of the past, but also problems of the future.”

As for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which the UN adopted during the tenure of former UN chief Ban Ki-moon in 2015, he said world efforts should go beyond diplomatic efforts.

“We are talking about trillions (of dollars), and it is not the levels that are usually discussed in development cooperation programs. We need to find other forms of (financing), and make sure we are able to leverage the resources of international financial institutions. We need to invent new instruments,” he said.

UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak delivered the opening speech, in which he stressed the importance of multilateralism and how the UN should lead to promote the value.

The two-day forum, which started Wednesday, is hosted by Yonsei University Global Engagement and Empowerment Institute and the Ban Ki-moon Center for Global Citizens, which is based in Austria.

By Jo He-rim (