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UN chief calls Korean Peninsula crisis "highly volatile", urges talks


09:17, April 18, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called the Korean Peninsula crisis "highly volatile" and urged the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) to return to the negotiating table.

"On the Korean peninsula, the situation remains highly volatile, " he said in opening remarks at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. "The international community has responded in a firm but measured way to the nuclear test, threats and other provocative acts by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea."

"The recent developments have strengthened the international consensus that the DPRK will not be accepted as a nuclear-weapon- state," Ban said. "I continue to urge the DPRK leadership to reverse course and return to the negotiating table."

The UN chief explained he had spoken with leaders in China, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and "many other countries."

"I firmly believe that the recent offer of dialogue by the ROK is genuine and hope that the DPRK takes it seriously," said Ban, a former foreign minister of South Korea. "As secretary-general, I will continue my efforts to facilitate meaningful dialogue."

"At the same time, the international community should not lose sight of the serious humanitarian and human rights situation in the DPRK," he said. "I encourage the authorities to focus on the well-being of the country's people."

When asked if he thought the threat level of a nuclear detonation or missile launch had been reduced, the UN chief said, "The tension in and around the Korean peninsula is still remaining and persisting. That is why it is important for concerned countries in and around the Korean Peninsula (to) exercise all their diplomatic efforts to, first of all, reduce the tension so that there should not be any miscalculation or misjudgment."

"This is very important," he said. "If by any misjudgment and miscalculation, if there is violence, then the situation will be uncontrollable. That is why we are very much concerned. That is why I have been working very hard with all of the leaders in the region."

"Again, it is important that we first reduce the tension, and, at this time, I'm urging the authorities of the DPRK again to reverse the course and do more for enhancing their people's well- being," the secretary-general said.

Asked about the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, Ban said, " It is well known that they have a very serious food and nutrition crisis and there is stunting of children and that is very worrisome."

"The UN has been providing humanitarian assistance through the central emergency response fund," he added. "I sincerely hope with the reduction of tension, the international community should also consider providing humanitarian assistance."

Ban, during his meeting with reporters, also discussed the Syrian crisis and the Middle East, conflicts in Africa, including the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali.

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