Tokyo - The head of the United Nations has warned that the world is 'sleepwalking into war' over North Korea that could have 'very dramatic consequences'. Antonio Guterres also called for diplomatic efforts to banish nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula in a speech yesterday.
Speaking on a visit to Japan, Secretary-General Guterres explained: 'The worst possible thing that could happen would be for us all to sleepwalk into a war that might have very dramatic circumstances.'
The UN Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions over the past year against North Korea over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests. Speaking alongside Guterres, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed the call to 'fully implement United Nations Security Council resolutions' and hold 'meaningful dialogue toward denuclearisation'. The secretary-general's trip comes after Jeffrey Feltman, the UN's political affairs chief, visited North Korea earlier this month. Feltman said he had been told in Pyongyang that North Korea wants to avoid war and said he 'fervently' hoped the 'door to a negotiated solution will now be opened wide'.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was ready to talk to Pyongyang 'without preconditions', interpreted by many as a shift in the US position. Washington's top diplomat told the Atlantic Council policy forum that North Korea is welcome to talk about anything at a first meeting - even the weather.
However, the White House and Tillerson's own department later stressed that the US position on North Korea 'had not changed'. 'The secretary was not creating a new policy, our policy remains exactly the same as it was,' State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday. Asked about Tillerson's comments, Guterres said he would 'not like to comment on expressions that sometimes might not translate exactly the thinking' of the administration.(FA)