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U.N. chief says he's ready to visit N. Korea

All Headlines 11:12 May 19, 2015

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday reiterated his intention to visit North Korea at an appropriate time to help ease inter-Korean tensions.

"I have consistently expressed my readiness to visit Pyongyang if my visit is helpful... through close coordination with the concerned parties," including South Korea, he said in a keynote speech at the 6th Asian Leadership Conference here.

He said a regional arms race will intensify should North Korea stay on its current course.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, arrived here Monday for a five-day stay. It's his first visit to his homeland in nearly two years.

He cited a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong during the U.N. General Assembly last year.

Ban said he hopes to meet Ri again at this year's session, adding that the communist nation is a U.N. member.

He stressed the importance of separating humanitarian aid from political and security issues.

Ban appealed to the international community for more assistance, especially for North Korean children suffering from chronic malnutrition.

On regional cooperation, he asked Japanese leaders to take a "forward-looking" approach to improve relations with neighboring nations.

Later in the day, he plans to participate in the World Education Forum (WEF) to open in Songdo, west of Seoul.

He will also hold a joint press conference with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova there.


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