Goal of unified Korean Peninsula achievable, says Ban Ki-moon

16 May 2007 –

The dream of a reunified Korean Peninsula will come true, if the international community works in concert and all sides are willing to put aside their Cold War tensions, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech pledging renewed United Nations commitment towards resolving the outstanding issues in contention.

“All of us should embrace the change coming to our part of the world,” Mr. Ban said in a speech last night in New York to a dinner marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Korea Society.

He welcomed the recent advances in the multilateral negotiations on the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying he was heartened to see it was “back on track” and promising the UN would do all it could to support the process.

In February, the participants in the six-party talks reached an accord on initial steps towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula in which the DPRK committed to dismantling its nuclear arms programme in return for international energy and other aid.

“Beyond a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue with North Korea, we should aim to establish a peace mechanism, through transition from armistice to a permanent peace regimen,” he said.

Mr. Ban stressed his view that if the international community works together, it “can help achieve a secure, prosperous and democratic Peninsula… It is time to set aside the divisions of the Cold War, and focus on the future.” The Secretary-General said he was equally concerned about ensuring those people most in need in the DPRK, especially children, the elderly and women, receive the aid they require.

“I am determined, through dialogue and engagement with the DPRK and other countries, to mobilize international support for both humanitarian and longer-term development needs in the DPRK, as well as work for goodwill and mutual understanding in the region.”

During his speech Mr. Ban also outlined the priorities of his agenda as Secretary-General and the steps he has undertaken so far to achieve those ends. He discussed the crisis in Darfur, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanon’s political impasse, violence in Iraq, climate change, human rights, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the internal working culture of the UN.

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