United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is scheduled to visit North Korea this week, according to a report from Yonhap News Agency based on information from a senior UN official.
The report did not reveal any additional details regarding the visit of Mr. Ban to North Korea. The purpose of the trip and exact date of his arrival in the country is uncertain.
It will be the first time of Mr. Ban to visit North Korea since becoming the UN Secretary General. His visit to the country will also be the first by a UN chief after more than three decades since Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.
Mr. Ban aims to improve relations between North Korea & South Korea
Mr. Ban is expected to meet the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to help improve relations with South Korea. He served as Foreign Minister of South Korea before becoming the UN Secretary General.
“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,” according to a source interviewed by Yonhap.
The office of the UN spokesman declined to comments on the reported planned visit of the Secretary General to Pyongyang. Its statement indicated that Mr. Ban is always ready to help improve the dialogue and peace in the Korean peninsula.
In May, it was reported that Mr. Ban will visit the North Korea particularly the Kaesong Industria Park, which was opened in 2004. The industrial park is a collaborative economic development with South Korea and serves as a source of foreign currency for North Korea. It is located six miles north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
North Korea suddenly canceled Mr. Ban’s visit ti the country, one day before his scheduled arrival. Pyongyang did not give any reason for the cancelation.
Mr. Ban visited the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2006 when he was the Foreign Minister of South Korea. During his recent visit to South Korea, Mr. Ban said, “The Kaesong project is a win-win model for both Koreas. It symbolizes a good aim to tap the advantage of South and North Korea in a complementary manner. I hope my visit will provide a positive impetus to develop it further and expand to other areas.”
Mr. Ban will probably discuss North Korea’s nuclear disarmament
He will also probably take the opportunity to revive the Six-Party Talks regarding the nuclear disarmament for North Korea. One of the top priorities of the United Nations is to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The Six Party Talks to denuclearize North Korea was stalled since 2008 due to a disagreement on the verification systems of the country’s nuclear program.
North Korea rejected the proposal of the United States to allow verification inspections at sites across the country and denied its commitment in a verbal agreement allowing the collection of samples at Yongbyon nuclear facilities.
There is a possibility that North Korea will not welcome any discussions with Mr. Ban regarding its nuclear program, according to Chang Yong-seok, an analyst at Seoul National University, Institute for Peace and Unification Studies.
US ready to engage in dialogue with North Korea
Last month, President Barack Obama said the United States is ready to engage in a dialogue with North Korea. According to him, the US supports the efforts of South Korea to improve relations with Pyongyang.
The US and South Korea are both deeply concerned about the continued progress of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, which are prohibited by the United Nations.
Pres. Obama and South Korean Pres. Park Geun-hye are committed to addressing the issue with utmost determination and urgency. However, Pres. Obama emphasized that North Korea “needs to understand that it will not achieve economic development as long as it clings to nuclear weapons.”
South Korea on alert for imminent nuclear test from North Korea
Meanwhile, South Korea stated that it is closely watching North Korea for any signs of an imminent missile test. Pyongyang recently declared a no-sail zone at the coastal city of Wonsan from November 11 to December 7.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Pyongyang did not sent a formal notice regarding the matter and suggested that the no-sail zone advisory was intended for domestic shipping only.
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry said, “We are closely watching the situation and closely monitoring related factors from a military standpoint.”