Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today affirmed support for inter-Korean dialogue, following the Republic of Korea’s offer to hold talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which he considers a valuable bridge between the two countries.
“The Secretary-General remains seriously concerned about the suspension of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He is particularly concerned about the economic and humanitarian implications of this suspension,” Mr. Ban said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
The Secretary-General believes that this project should not be affected by political and security considerations, the spokesperson added.
Mr. Ban has described the Kaesong Industrial Complex as a “successful example of inter-Korean cooperation which has promoted economic growth and served as a bridge between the two Koreas.”
The complex is located in the border town of Kaesong just across the Demilitarized Zone. It employs more than 53,000 citizens of the DPRK at 123 companies of the Republic of Korea (ROK), according to media reports.
Earlier this month, the DPRK banned personnel and goods from its southern neighbour from entering the facility, forcing the complex to suspend operations.
Today, the ROK Unification Ministry proposed working-level talks to resolve the humanitarian issues affecting workers in the complex and to normalize the Kaesong industrial zone.
Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in the statement that he “sincerely hopes the operation of the Complex can return to normal as soon as possible through dialogue.”
He reiterated that Mr. Ban has been closely following the situation on the Korean peninsula, and has sought to encourage dialogue between the two Koreas.
“He also appreciates the efforts of other concerned parties, including China, to this end,” the spokesperson said.
In February, the DPRK conducted its third, long threatened nuclear test, a move that was in violation of Security Council sanctions and drew widespread condemnation, including from Mr. Ban.
The test prompted the Security Council to tighten sanctions on the country’s trade and banking, as well as travel by targeted officials. The DPRK then reportedly said it was cancelling the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War.