UN chief on North Korea: Time for diplomacy

UN Secretary-General calls to dial down the rhetoric in Korean peninsula tensions.

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Ben Ariel,

Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday that tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest level in decades and called “to dial down the rhetoric and to dial up diplomacy,” The Associated Press reported.

Speaking to reporters, the UN chief said 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.

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

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

Guterres said the recently adopted UN 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 also noted 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.

The comments come amid tensions between the United States and North Korea.

North Korea last week threatened a missile attack on Guam, a tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific, in response to President Donald Trump’s warning that Pyongyang faced "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued to threaten the United States with its missile and nuclear programs.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that military options for a potential threat from North Korea are "fully in place," and urged Kim to de-escalate the current confrontation with Washington.

On Monday, however, North Korea’s official news agency reported that Kim is holding off on attacking Guam and will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision.

In his comments on Wednesday, Guterres 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.