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UN chief warns against military action on North Korea

IANS | United Nations | Updated :

Warning that military action to deal with North Korean nuclear and missile threats will be “too horrific to contemplate”, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called upon nations to “dial-down rhetoric and dial-up diplomacy”.

Speaking to reporters, he said that all countries should strictly enforce the recent Security Council resolution imposing a stringent embargo on North Korea, but simultaneously also work towards a “meaningful dialogue”.

His comments on dangers of military action appeared to be aimed at United States President Donald Trump who has warned Pyongyang of a rain of “fire and fury like the world has never seen before” if it continued with its threats to the US.

North Korea’s hereditary dictator Kim Jong-un, who oversaw the test of ballistic missiles that experts say could reach major US cities, had threatened to fire missiles near Guam, a US territory in the Pacific.

However, in the face of Trump’s stern warnings he has since backed off, saying he would wait to see the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees”.

Guterres also conceded the role of North Korea in precipitating the crisis, saying that it started with Pyongyang building up its nuclear and missile programmes.

Even as the US and North Korea appear to have pulled back from the brink, Guterres recalled that more than 3 million people had died in the Korean conflict of the early 1950s and warned that the world needs to heed the lessons of history.

He said the channels of communication between North Korea and the other parties should be opened, either bilaterally or through the resumption of the six-party talks of the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

He also said that the two Koreas should hold a dialogue on de-nuclearising their peninsula.

Answering a reporter’s question, he said that Trump or anyone else was not going to force him not speak his mind.

He said that his statements on Wednesday were proof that he would say “what needs to be said” whether they were not to the liking of Trump or any other leader.

On another issue involving Trump, who has accused Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro of being a repressive dictator and threatened military intervention against him, Guterres said that Latin America had successfully gotten rid of both authoritarianism and foreign dictatorship and cold deal with situation.

In Korea meanwhile, Trump’s threats and brinkmanship appear to have paid off for the time being despite some international criticism and opposition by Democrats in the United States.

Pyongyang’s patron, Beijing, has begun enforcing more vigorously the latest round of Security Council sanctions and forced it to back down from its threats to hurl missiles near Guam.

Trump’s counter-threats could have endangered China’s own economy and standing for now.