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UN's Ban to Visit North Korea

  • VOA News

FILE - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Apr. 28, 2015.

FILE - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Apr. 28, 2015.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is planning a Thursday visit to a factory park that lies just north of the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.

Ban Ki-moon's planned tour of the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex would mark the first time in more than two decades that a U.N. secretary-general has visited North Korea.

Announcing the visit Tuesday, Mr. Ban called the factory park a "win-win model for both Koreas."

"I reiterate my willingness to do whatever it takes to contribute to improving inter-Korean relations and promoting reconciliation and stability on the Korean peninsula," said Ban, who arrived in Seoul on Monday.

He is expected to meet with North Korean workers and South Korean businessman during the trip to Kaesong. More than 53,000 North Korean workers are employed by about 120 South Korean factories in the park.

The facility was established in 2004. It serves as one of the few areas of cooperation between North and South Korea, which remain in a state of war since their 1950s conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

No U.N. chief has ever visited the facility. The last head of the international body to visit the North was Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who crossed through the DMZ in 1993.

Earlier Tuesday at an event in Seoul, Mr. Ban said is ready to visit Pyongyang, "when and if my visit is helpful."

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