Israel threatens peace in Middle East and the world . Free Middle East of WMD will reinforce peace and security in the region.
Associated France Press (AFP) Tues. 23/5/2006
Annan wants greater effort on NKorea
by Cindy Sui
BEIJING (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a doubling of efforts to end the North Korean nuclear stalemate and urged East Asia’s feuding neighbors to find ways to ease their tensions.
Wrapping up a five-day visit to China, Annan gave a speech at Peking University pressing the international community to work much harder to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
"We can not allow the current stalemate to continue. All parties will need to redouble their efforts," Annan said.
Annan singled out China, which is host of the drawn-out six-nation talks on the issue and believed to be the country that has the most influence in Pyongyang, as having a critical role.
"China’s ongoing leadership will be essential to ensure that multilateral diplomatic efforts result in a (Korean) peninsula free from nuclear weapons," he said.
The talks, involving North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, stalled after Washington imposed financial sanctions on Pyongyang in November last year for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering.
North Korea has said it will not return to the talks until the sanctions are removed, but the United States has refused to budge.
North Korea had agreed in principle at the previous round of talks in September to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for security, diplomatic and energy aid guarantees.
Annan, who met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao during his stay, said he had spent a "good deal of time" discussing nuclear non-proliferation with them.
He said they specifically focused on North Korea and Iran.
In his wide-ranging address, Annan also said China, South Korea and Japan should try to work together more closely in areas of mutual concern to find ways of easing their long-standing tensions.
"As a start this could include protecting the environment in this part of the world. They could also combine their efforts to advance a green revolution in Africa," Annan said.
"All this could help pave the way for improved relations and in so doing help them to realize their immense individual and collective potential."
Annan, who visited South Korea and Japan before traveling to China, has made the historical enmities of the three nations a priority on his Asian tour.
In Tokyo last week, Annan called on the three to "put their past to rest".
China and South Korea continue to harbor resentment over Japan’s invasions of their countries in the 20th century.
They are particularly infuriated over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 top war criminals.
Annan also praised China’s economic development but warned that "huge challenges" remained for the Asian nation, particularly in addressing the widening wealth gap between urban and rural areas.
"Somehow the rural poor must be enabled to share in China’s amazing economic growth," he said.
"Urgent efforts are (also) needed to fight the spread of HIV- AIDS, and measures to protect the environment are equally crucial."
After his speech, Annan was due visit the site of the main Olympic stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games. He was then due to fly to Vietnam for the next leg of the tour before heading on to Thailand.