No soft-pedalling in talks with DPR Korea, UN political chief says after visit

16 February 2010

The United Nations political chief said today that he held “friendly but frank” discussions during his recent visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), with the UN stressing to Pyongyang that it should return to multilateral talks without preconditions.

The United Nations political chief said today that he held “friendly but frank” discussions during his recent visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), with the UN stressing to Pyongyang that it should return to multilateral talks with preconditions.

B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, speaking to journalists today in New York, reiterated that the UN was not in the country to negotiate on behalf of the so-called Six-Party Talks, of which the UN is not a member.

“We were there to reconnect,” Mr. Pascoe said about the four-day mission, noting that he was the first high-level UN official to visit the country in six years.

“Our effort was to open a high-level dialogue to see what we could do between this Organization and one of the Member States. We succeeded in doing that. It was quite clear that both sides were satisfied,” he continued.

During the four-day visit that began on 9 February, Mr. Pascoe said his team met with Kim Yong-nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun and Vice Foreign Minister Pak Gil Yon.

Mr. Pascoe described the talks as “friendly but frank” on all the issues, including nuclear issues, the Six-Party Talks [which include DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States], DPRK’s relations with its neighbours and other countries, and UN-DPRK cooperation.

“We made clear that the Secretary-General felt that the talks should begin without precondition,” said Mr. Pascoe, who was accompanied on the trip by the Secretary-General’s Deputy Chef-de-Cabinet Kim Won-soo. “There was no soft-pedalling and they were quite frank with us about what their views were.”

On the humanitarian front, Mr. Pascoe and his team met with representatives from the six UN agencies and programmes active in the DPRK, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO). They toured the Pyongyang maternity hospital and a rice milk factory operated by WFP.

Mr. Pascoe praised the UN country team, saying that the staff were doing an excellent job to help the Korean people, despite one of the lowest rates in the world of overseas development assistance (ODA) per capita.

“Throughout the trip, it was clear that the Government and the people very much appreciate UN assistance,” said Mr. Pascoe.

 

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UN political chief heads to DPR Korea for talks with senior officials

The top United Nations political official will arrive in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tomorrow for talks with senior Government officials after wrapping up meetings in Beijing and Seoul.