Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the latest steps to improve inter-Korean relations, including an agreement to resume cross-border reunions next month for hundreds of families separated since the Korean War.
Mr. Ban was also pleased that the authorities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday released four crew members of a Republic of Korea (ROK) fishing vessel who had been detained after accidentally crossing into northern waters.
“He hopes that these steps will help create conditions conducive to improving inter-Korean relations and the peaceful resolution of outstanding matters, including the nuclear issue,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
Encouraged by the “positive momentum in inter-Korean relations,” the Secretary-General also reaffirmed his readiness to offer assistance as appropriate.
The latest moves follow the release just weeks ago of a ROK national who had been detained by the DPRK authorities since 30 March, as well as of two American journalists who had been found guilty of entering DPRK illegally in March and sentenced to 12 years' hard labour.
Earlier this month, Mr. Ban was in his native ROK for a 10-day private visit, during which he met with President Lee Myung-bak and discussed the nuclear crisis in DPRK and other global challenges, including climate change.
The UN chief is currently on an official visit to Austria, from which he will travel to Norway and to the Arctic polar ice rim to spotlight climate change, which he has described as the “defining challenge of our era.”