NKorean diplomat: UN chief should improve relations

United Nations: A senior North Korean diplomat said today he knows nothing about reported plans for a visit to Pyongyang by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but that if the UN chief does come he should help improve relations between the two Koreas and between the North and the United Nations.

Ri Hung Sik was responding to questions at a news conference today about a South Korean news report that the UN chief would visit the North Korean capital this week for a possible meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.

He repeated twice, “I know nothing.”

But Ri, an ambassador-at-large in the Foreign Ministry, said “it is very natural, it is ordinary for the UN secretary-general to visit its member states.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said today the secretary-general will not be visiting North Korea this week.

He said Ban has a full week of meetings at UN headquarters and will be heading to the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Malaysia at the start of the weekend.

But Dujarric said “the secretary-general has always made it clear that he is ready to help play a role to enhance dialogue and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Six months ago, Pyongyang at the last minute canceled an invitation for Ban to visit an inter-Korean factory park in the North Korean city of Kaesong.

Ban has said North Korea gave no reason for the cancellation.

He had not planned to visit Pyongyang at that time.

The reclusive northeast Asian nation has been ruled by a single family since the creation of the Communist-aligned Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK – as the North is officially known – when Korea was partitioned in 1945 at the end of World War II.

The last UN secretary-general to visit was Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who traveled to the country in 1993.

Ri said North Korea’s relations with the UN are “not good” because every year the General Assembly and its human rights bodies adopt “anti-DPRK human rights resolutions.”

He called for a halt to “such unfair measures against my country.”

“If Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Pyongyang is realized … it should be of help and assistance to improve the situation on the Korean peninsula, to improve the bilateral relations between the U.N. And the DPRK,” Ri said.