Time to "strengthen communication channels" with North Korea: UN chief

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Security Council. Photo: UN/Manuel Elias

It's time to re-open channels of communication with North Korea to avoid an "accidental escalation" of conflict, said UN chief António Guterres on Friday.

The Secretary-General was addressing the Security Council, and he called on the leadership of North Korea, otherwise known as DPRK, to comply with resolutions aimed at halting its nuclear weapons programme.

So far this year, North Korea has carried out 20 ballistic missile launches, including its sixth nuclear explosive test.

Matt Wells has more.

The UN chief said North Korea was the only country in the world continuing to carry out reckless nuclear tests, and its actions showed "blatant disregard" for Security Council resolutions.

He called on DPRK to finally comply, and allow space for talks aimed at restoring stability to the Korean Peninsula to begin.

"While all concerned seek to avoid an accidental escalation leading to conflict, the risk is being multiplied by misplaced over-confidence, dangerous narratives and rhetoric, and the lack of communication channels. It is time to immediately re-establish and strengthen communication channels, including inter-Korean and military to military channels. This is critical to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and reduce tensions in the region. Any military action would have devastating and unpredictable consequences."

Mr. Guterres argued the case for the UN to be at the centre of the effort to pull the peninsula back from the brink of war.

The UN Secretariat would be an impartial broker, he said, and it embodied the values and principles that could lead to a diplomatic solution.

He added that the UN was the only venue where all the parties involved could meet to "narrow their differences" and promote "confidence-building measures".

The UN chief said Security Council unanimity was essential going forward, adding that "diplomatic engagement is the only pathway to sustainable peace and denuclearization."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'25"

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