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Annan Urges Resumption of Nuclear Talks
Cat : WMD
Date : 2006-05-16 17:20:54                      Reader : 261
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Associated France Press (AFP) 15/5/2006

Annan Urges Resumption of Nuclear Talks



SEOUL, South Korea - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday called for the prompt resumption of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs and urged South Korea to play a greater role in international affairs.

During a meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul, Annan "showed support for the six-party talks aimed at resolving the North Korea nuclear issue and expressed hope they will resume soon," Roh’s office said in a statement.

Annan also expressed hope for stronger relations between the United Nations and South Korea.

"This special relationship has served us well," Annan said after meeting Roh. "I hope as we move into the future we are going to deepen even further our relationship. We expect you to play a greater role in international affairs."

The U.N. chief left for Tokyo later in the day, the second stop in an Asian tour that also includes visits to China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Annan’s visit comes as the South’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon seeks to replace him as the head of United Nations. Annan’s second five-year term ends on Dec. 31.

On Monday, Annan urged all parties to the six-nation talks — the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — to resume their efforts, saying human rights should not be allowed to block the discussions.

"The nuclear issue is by far the most important and should be given a separate category and priority as compared with human rights and other activities," Annan told reporters after meeting Ban.

The talks have been stalled since November because of a dispute between the North and the United States about financial sanctions imposed by Washington for alleged illegal activities by the communist country, such as counterfeiting.

The world’s top diplomat said also urged Iran to work with European countries to settle the dispute about its nuclear plans.

"Until recently we were focused on North Korea. Today we also have Iran," Annan said. "The international community has to take very urgent steps to deal with these issues."

The comments came as Washington seeks support for a tough resolution in the U.N. Security Council to declare Iran a threat to world peace and subject it to sanctions or even military action.

Tehran has repeatedly asserted its nuclear program is aimed at generating power.

South Korea was Annan’s first stop on a visit to several Asian countries for meetings with top officials.

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