UN's Ban regrets stalled nuke talks

Incoming UN chief calls for patience in resolving North Korea nuclear standoff.

    Ban Ki-moon takes over as secretary-
    general on January 1 [AFP] 
    "As I have said before, finding a solution through a multilateral framework takes time, so we need to be patient and we should not lose hope," he added.
    Ban's comments came amidst a growing chorus questioning the efficacy of the six-party format to persuade North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program.
    The negotiations - including Japan, the US, the two Koreas,China and Russia - produced what looked like a breakthrough last December, when North Korea agreed to end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.
    But no progress has since been made. Six-party talks held last week in Beijing - the first since North Korea cut off talks 13 months ago - ended without a breakthrough or even a firm commitment to meet again.
    Ban spent considerable time dealing with North Korea when he was South Korea's foreign minister, and has said problems posed by the North will be a top priority when he becomes secretary general.
    But he said he has no immediate plans to visit Pyongyang, the North’s capital.
    "As UN secretary general, I will keep making various complementary efforts, so that the process [of six-party talks] goes well," he said.
    In October Ban, the former South Korean foreign minister, was unanimously elected to succeed Kofi Annan as secretary-general, making him the first Asian in 35 years to head the UN.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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