The United Nations (UN) denied reports that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to visit North Korea next week.
Today, a UN spokesperson said, “The Secretary General will not be travelling to DPKR next week.” He was referring to North Korea using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its official name.
On Monday, the Yonhap and Xinhua news agencies reported that Mr. Ban will travel to North Korea this week and will arrive in Pyongyang next Monday and stay there for around four days, based on information from an unnamed UN official.
The report also suggested the possibility that Mr. Ban will meet the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
The UN official was quoted saying, “It is impossible that the U.N Secretary-General will not meet the leader of North Korea, a U.N. member state, as he visits the country.”
UN chief still willing to travel to North Korea
According to the UN spokesperson, Mr. Ban will be spending most of the days this week in New York. He will be attending the Malta Commonwealth Summit. From there he will travel to Paris to attend the global climate change conference.
The Malta Commonwealth Summit will be held on November 27 to 29 while the Paris Global Climate Change Conference will start on November 30.
The UN spokesperson said even the Secretary General will not visit North Korea next week, he repeatedly stated his willingness to “play any constructive role including travelling to the DPRK, in an effort to work for peace stability and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula.”
There are reports indicating that Mr. Ban wants to visit North Korea before the end of his term next year. The Secretary General is hoping to obtain assurance that Kim Jong-un will meet him.
In May, Mr. Ban was scheduled to visit North Korea particularly the Kaesong Industrial Park. However, Pyongyang suddenly cancelled his trip to the country, one day before his arrival.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the last Secretary General to visit North Korea in 1993—that was more than three decades ago.
North Korea nuclear disarmament
Mr. Ban’s visit to North Korea will be historic if it will happen, and many suggested that the Secretary General does not want to return without achieving positive development particularly on the issue of denuclearization. The international community is concerned that the isolated communist country is becoming a major threat as it continues to expand its nuclear program.
Many believed that Mr. Ban wants to convince North Korea’s Supreme Leader to return to the Six Party Talks to end its nuclear weapons program. However, Pyongyang repeatedly expressed his position that it will not give up its nuclear program, and it will not accept an Iran-like nuclear deal.
In July, a spokesperson for the country’s Foreign Ministry said, “The DPRK is not interested at all in the dialogue to discuss the issue of making it freeze or dismantle its nukes unilaterally.”
Pyongyang performed nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013. The UN imposed economic and commercial sanctions against the country for its actions.