Deputy Secretary-General’s press encounter [unofficial transcript]
Seoul, Republic of Korea, 13 April 2015
I had a meeting yesterday with the President Park in Daegu. I had a dual purpose in this meeting. The first one is to attend the World Water Forum in Daegu. The United Nations has a strong interest in working for people who need water and sanitation around the world. And I also have a meeting here in Seoul, with the government. I’ve seen several ministers and as I said earlier, I had meeting with the President yesterday. Also I gave a speech this morning at Korea University. We appreciated very much Korea’s contribution to the UN in terms of peace and security, development, climate change, human rights and the rule of law. I discussed all these issues yesterday and today, and covered also important international crises areas and challenges including preserving peace and security in the Korean Peninsula. We welcome also very much the efforts to improve the dialogue between ROK, China and Japan. Above all, I’m very happy to visit Korea again, I was Vice Minister once upon a time and met here one of my colleagues, Ban Ki-moon, with whom I’ve worked for 3 years.
Before I open up to questions, I want to express my condolences to the loss of personnel by the terrorist attack to the ROK Embassy in Tripoli. I know that two security guards were killed by this horrific terrorist attacks. Also I want to take this moment to express again our sense of grief and condolences for the loss of so many people in sinking of ferry last year. I know this is enormous pain for family, friends, and all over the Korea. It was also a shock to the international community. I remember the morning that I saw the news of the tragedy.
Q: Japanese Prime Minister Abe is going to make his speech in the U.S Congress. He has claimed that the Dokdo Islets is Japanese territory and he also has denied Japan’s role in history, the Second World War. So what he will be doing has received a lot of attention by the Korean press. What he is doing stands in contrast to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. So I want to know your thoughts about Mr. Abe and your views of the direction of his speech in the U.S. Congress.
DSG: I cannot say anything about the direction of the speech of Mr. Abe. I know that there are very sensitive issues between key nations in this region related to the territorial issue and history of the Second World War. We the UN can only approach this from the outside, and very much hope that there will be settlement and solution of the issue and to find a method to deal with these issues to improve the relationship between the nations.
So the territorial issue will be dealt with in the bilateral context or other ways to find solutions. Also, the history issue is a deeply sensitive issue, and it is up to nations to find ways to improve the relationships. I know in the case of Germany, there were acts of remembrance and grief. However, this is up to the nations. I hope we will see improvement of relationship among China, Korea and Japan
Q: You met the Ambassador of North Korea Ja Sung Nam in January this year, and as far as I know the UN is willing to help resume the talks between two Koreas. And what I wish to know is what has been discussed, and has North Korea expressed its willingness of actions or what kind of plan does it have to to improve the relationship. Also, Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s tenure has only two years left. So I want to know what role the UN can play to mediate the relationship between two Koreas and Mr. Ban’s thought about it.
DSG: The Korean Peninsula is an area which is of international concern. We focus on the nuclear issue, and the importance of restraint and reducing the tension. I just came back from China last week, and I had a very interesting discussion with the government of China on the situation in this regard. The local process for the stage of six party talks can begin so that this matter could be solved through negotiations.
We follow very closely the humanitarian situation in DPRK and we have launched a program of $111 million for action in cooperation with the government of the DPRK. We hope that we can have international support for this issue. The humanitarian situation is still serious, although there has been some improvement. We also follow the developments of human rights report from the Human Rights Council. We helped very much to establish the dialogue for the DPRK in the human rights field, and we have also periodic reviews - universal periodic review (UPR). We are establishing the Human Rights Office here in Seoul to follow the developments of this area.
I also note the proposal by the President of the ROK yesterday about possible cooperation of water management in the Daegu conference. We are faced with the historic choice on water cooperation. We have a choice between competition and conflicts on water or sharing and cooperation. I think it is an area of possible progress. It is in the interest of both sides to increase contacts, make confidence in intentions so that people can meet and develop links. And I know the aspiration and hope of Korea’s reunification and I think and hope that in the end, it can be possible.
Q: Let me ask you the following question of North Korea. I am wondering whether the UN will send a special envoy to North Korea to help resolve nuclear issues of human rights.
DSG: We already have UN personnel in Pyongyang and have a channel of information to the Government of the DPRK. The Secretary General and his staff are willing to play a constructive role if requested. And we watch very carefully the developments. We also have some influence on the DPRK regarding the six-party talks. I had discussion with the representative of China as I said before. The UN has a role to promote peace, development and human rights. That is our job and we will continue to do so.
Press Conferences on 13 April 2015