Antonio Guterres calls on all parties in conflict to observe truce during 2018 Olympic, Paralympic Games

  08 February 2018    Read: 1667
Antonio Guterres calls on all parties in conflict to observe truce during 2018 Olympic, Paralympic Games
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday dialogue between North Korea and the United States is "absolutely necessary" and "urgent" to fend off any possibility of tensions escalating into a sudden crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

He also said a negotiated solution with North Korea is possible if there is a security guarantee for the communist country and other parties involved.

"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 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," the U.N. chief said in a radio program with the CBS broadcasting company, recorded Thursday.

"So we will do everything we can ... to press for those talks," the former Portugal prime minister said, referring to U.N. efforts to broker dialogue with North Korea.

"I hope this improvement in the inter-Korean relationship in the (upcoming) Olympic Games will contribute to facilitating the understanding of the need for serious negotiations to address the denuclearization, a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he noted.

He touted the U.N. Security Council's series of sanctions on North Korea as something that "created an opportunity for political engagement" with North Korea.

"Those (U.N.) 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," he said, adding that therefore claims for regime change or unification by "chaotic" ways do not make sense.

He also ruled out the viability of the military options of launching a pre-emptive strike or a "bloody nose" attack on North Korea, saying hardliners should not be given the opportunity to pursue them.

"I believe it's very important (not just) for North Korea, but also for the United States, China and Russia to engage politically in finding the way to address the situation that still prevails to make sure we achieve a peaceful denuclearization."

   Achieving North Korea's denuclearization would be possible, he also suggested, if the negotiation is conducted upon a guarantee of non-aggression among negotiating parties.

"If there's a guarantee that this will be done in respect for the security of the different entities involved, I do believe that a solution is possible," according to the secretary-general.

Guterres is currently in Seoul to attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics slated for Friday. He is to hold talks with President Moon Jae-in during his stay here.

A delegation of hundreds of North Koreans, including cheerleaders, Olympic athletes and musicians, have come to South Korea in a rare inter-Korean exchange that was arranged amid a growing reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas.

North is also to send a four-member high-level delegation to the opening event, that will include the country's nominal head Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"I don't look at the Olympic Games as a photo opportunity or something to appear on the television," he said. "I hope this creates conditions for ... a serious dialogue."


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