U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed North Korea's move to
hand over details of its nuclear program as a "very encouraging
development," and urged continued progress in the six-party talks.
From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Ban said North Korea's submission of the declaration of its nuclear
programs to China - as chair of the talks - and the U.S. decision to
lift trade sanctions and remove Pyongyang from its list of states that
sponsor terrorism are "important steps forward."
"I call on all
six-party participants to take this opportunity to expedite movement
towards the full implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement. I
strongly support their efforts towards this end," he said.
U.N. chief spoke to reporters as he prepares to depart Friday on a
two-week trip that will take him to Japan, China, his home nation of
South Korea, and then back to Japan to attend the G-8 summit. But he
skirted questions about whether he might add a stop in North Korea to
Mr. Ban also repeated his concern about the
runoff election scheduled to take place Friday in the African nation
of Zimbabwe, where the government has used violence and intimidation
against the opposition and its supporters.
"First and foremost
at this time, my concern is how to ensure that this violence and
intimidation stop and people are no longer intimidated and people no
longer suffer from this humanitarian crisis. As I have urged that
under these circumstances, where one cannot expect a credible and fair
election, this presidential run-off election should be postponed until
such time when we can create fair and credible conditions for the
election," he said.
The secretary-general said he is continuing
to discuss the situation with African leaders and urged them to engage
in more dialogue.
Regarding his trip to Asia, the
secretary-general said the meeting of the Group of 8 this year has
taken on a special urgency because of three interrelated crises.
first and most pressing is the global food crisis. The second is
climate change, and the need to act now if we are to reach an agreement
to limit greenhouse gases by the end of next year. The third is the
emergency of development, especially in Africa," he said.
Ban said leadership is needed on these three fronts. He warned that
the food crisis and climate change are slowing and in some cases
reversing progress on development in Africa, where he hopes to cut
extreme poverty and disease in half by 2015.