Two Asian Nuclear Powers Address UN General Assembly

Two nuclear powers took the podium at the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday. North Korea's vice minister for foreign affairs says Pyongyang supports a denuclearized Korean peninsula. While, his Pakistani counterpart says his nation is opposed to an arms race in South Asia. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

North Korea's Choi Su Hon says the current summit between North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will open up a new phase for peace, prosperity and reunification.

He says, "nothing is more important than the reunification of our nation, which has been living for more than half a century with the sufferings of territorial division imposed by outside forces."

The summit is only the second time the leaders of the two Koreas have met since the peninsula was divided in 1953.

He added that North Korea supports denuclearizing the peninsula.

He says, "denuclearizing the Korean peninsula is the lifetime teachings of our fatherly leader President Kim Il Sung, and it is our consistent position to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and negotiations."

He added that sanctions against his country are not helpful in resolving any issue, and he called on the United States to end what he termed its "hostile policy" toward North Korea's internal affairs.

In recent meeting of six-party in Beijing,China on North Korea's nuclear program, progress has been made toward ending the activity of Pyongyang's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, the source of plutonium for its small arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign minister also addressed the assembly.

Riaz Mohammad Khan says his country's nuclear assets are only for defensive purposes, and that Pakistan is committed to complete disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

"We are opposed to an arms race and want to maintain minimum credible deterrence," said Mohammad Khan. "We will not be the first to test in our region. We will never use our nuclear capability against non-nuclear weapon states."

He added that Pakistan is engaged in a peace process with nuclear-neighbor India that has led to significantly improved relations.

On Monday, the two countries opened the first overland truck route between them since they gained independence 60 years ago.

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