12 February 2010 The top United Nations political official today wrapped up a visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying he told officials from the North Asian nation that international talks on denuclearization must be resumed “without preconditions or delay.”
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe, addressing reporters in Beijing following his four-day DPRK visit, characterized his talks in Pyongyang as “friendly but frank,” noting that they “laid the bases for further discussions in the future.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly called on the DPRK to re-engage in the Six-Party Talks that also involve the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
Other topics Mr. Pascoe discussed with top officials in Pyongyang included the nuclear issue, DPRK’s relations with its neighbours and the country’s cooperation with the UN.
“I believe the both sides now have a better understanding of the others’ view, and it will be important to build upon these in the future,” said Mr. Pascoe, whose visit to the DPRK was the first in six years by a UN official at this level.
While in the DPRK, he also met with representatives from the UN country team and saw first-hand the work UN bodies are carrying out at a children’s hospital and at a facility producing fortified food for malnutrition.
The World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and others are “doing a terrific job under difficult circumstances,” said Mr. Pascoe.
He expressed alarm at the funding shortfalls that are jeopardizing the world body’s humanitarian efforts in the DPRK, noting that he will report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the urgency to fully fund these vital programmes.
From Beijing, Mr. Pascoe will travel to Seoul and Tokyo before returning to New York.
In September, the Secretary-General met with the DPRK’s Vice Foreign Minister Park Gil Yon at UN Headquarters in New York, where he discussed the country’s nuclear issue along with the humanitarian and human rights situations.
In a report to the General Assembly last year, Mr. Ban voiced concern over the impact of the humanitarian situation on human rights in the country, where more than one third of the nearly 24 million-strong population is in need of food assistance.
The Asian nation’s humanitarian problems – including food shortages, a crumbling health system and lack of access to safe drinking water – seriously “hamper the fulfilment of human rights of the population,” he wrote.
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