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Yoon, UN chief reaffirm cooperation on NK denuclearization, human rights

President to address illegality of military cooperation between NK, Russia during UN speech

Sept. 20, 2023 - 15:09 By Shin Ji-hye


President Yoon Suk Yeol shakes hands with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres fortified their commitment to fostering peace and enhancing human rights in North Korea during a meeting on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Meeting the UN chief for the third time, Yoon said he was looking forward to continuing cooperation with the United Nations to “curb" North Korean provocations and substantially “improve the human rights situation” in the regime, according to a statement from the presidential office.

Guterres reaffirmed his commitment to cooperating on the “denuclearization” of North Korea and “enhancing the human rights” situation in the country.

A high-ranking official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that the two exchanged their views on the potential arms deal between the leaders of North Korea and Russia arms.

However, the official pointed out the UN secretary-general does not express a personal stance on the issue or demand specific actions, citing his role in multilateral diplomacy, where he listens to each country's position and advocates for unity and cooperation.

During the meeting, held on the sidelines of the 78th High-Level Session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres expressed gratitude for the Korean government's contributions to the UN, and looks forward to closer communication to address major international issues while Korea serves as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council.

Yoon expressed Korea's willingness to actively contribute to promoting peace in the international community as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council for the 2024-2025 term. The president also outlined the nation's plan to help establish peace in Ukraine.

The following day, Yoon is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the UN General Assembly. He plans to address the illegality of military cooperation between North Korea and Russia and to call for a united response from the international community. He will also emphasize the Korean government's commitment to actively contribute to narrowing the global gap and propose support measures.

Deputy National Security Director Kim Tae-hyo told reporters that Yoon plans to highlight the widening gap between countries, exacerbated by a complex crisis involving overlapping economic downturns and food and energy crises due to the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. He was expected to propose a support plan aimed at alleviating disparities in development, climate and the digital sector.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is visiting the United States to attend the 78th United Nations General Assembly, greets his Ghanaian entourage at the Korea-Ghana leaders' luncheon held in New York on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

During his speech, Yoon will emphasize the responsible role of countries with substantial financial resources and technological capabilities in addressing the development gap. Despite Korea's fiscal austerity, he intends to announce plans for Korea to increase Official Development Assistance to developing countries, according to Kim.

In efforts to address the climate gap, Yoon intends to showcase the Korean government's policies, including the expansion of green ODA, increased financial support for the Green Climate Fund and the utilization and dissemination of carbon-free energy sources. He aims to convey the Korean government's strong commitment to expanding the use of carbon-free energy.


‘Busan is Ready’


Yoon, who had met with leaders from nine countries since arriving in New York, held meetings with representatives from eight additional countries on Tuesday as part of a comprehensive diplomatic campaign to secure the hosting rights for the 2030 Busan World Expo.

Yoon met with Cote d'Ivoire Vice President Tiemoko Meyliet Kone and leaders from Ghana, Monaco, Suriname, Lesotho, Belize, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. This follows the summits held the day before with Sri Lanka, San Marino, Burundi, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Montenegro, Turkmenistan, Saint Lucia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

First lady Kim Keon Hee attends an event with foreign reporters and New York City officials at Samsung 837 in Manhattan, New York, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Deputy National Security Director Kim said, "President Yoon personally handed out Busan Expo promotional brochures to each head of state, explaining the vision that the Busan Expo aims to achieve and requesting their support."

Yoon has conveyed that the Busan Expo is slated to be the "most competitive venue" for communication, promotion and exchange, serving as a multifaceted platform designed to facilitate win-win customized investments for each participating country, spur job creation and nurture talent for future generations, according to Kim.

First lady Kim Keon Hee also attended an event held at Samsung 837 in Manhattan, New York, in support of Korean cultural startups and to promote Busan’s attractiveness.

Kim said at the event, "Decades ago, Korea endured a brutal three-year war due to the communist invasion. At one point, the entire country was devastated by the invaders, with only Busan remaining untouched."

"Our leap forward from the postwar ruins began in the maritime city of Busan," she said, noting that the world's leading automobile, petrochemical, shipbuilding, semiconductor, secondary battery, nuclear power plant, and digital industries emerged from the ruins where everything had been destroyed.

She had with her a handbag that featured a scarf adorned with a heart pattern and the word "Busan," along with a key ring that read "Busan is Ready."