UN chief: It’s time for diplomacy on tense Korean peninsula

August 16, 2017 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday that tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level in decades and said it’s important “to dial down the rhetoric and to dial up diplomacy.”

The U.N. chief told reporters the world needs to heed the lessons of history and not repeat the mistakes that led to the Korean War, which started 67 years ago and killed more than three million people.


The United States and North Korea are in a tense standoff sparked by Pyongyang’s recent missile tests and threats to fire them toward Guam. President Donald Trump last week declared the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the United States.

Guterres warned that “as tensions rise, so does the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation or escalation.”

“The solution to this crisis must be political,” he added. “The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate.”

Guterres said the recently adopted U.N. Security Council resolution imposing the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea also represents “an opportunity for diplomatic engagement and renewed dialogue to solve this crisis.”

The secretary-general said there are “many possible avenues for this dialogue” including bilateral talks and reviving the six-party negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear program that have been stalled since 2009 when Pyongyang pulled out.

Guterres said that on Tuesday he told representatives of the countries in the six-party talks — North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan — that he “will remain in close contact with all concerned parties and stand ready to assist in any way.”

He also said the international community must send a clear message to North Korea’s leadership to fully comply with its international obligations, reopen communication channels and deescalate the situation.

The U.N. chief said he supports South Korea’s call on North Korea “to engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue.”

“This includes through confidence-building measures to defuse tension and to enable steps aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Guterres said.