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U.N. chief encourages 2 Koreas to resume talks.

NEW YORK, Feb. 9 Kyodo

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Wednesday urged North and South Korea to resume negotiations and continue their dialogue, after working-level military talks between Pyongyang and Seoul ended without agreement earlier in the day.

''The secretary general encourages the parties to resume their talks and resolve their differences through dialogue,'' Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told Kyodo News in an e-mail exchange.

''He (Ban) has taken note of the meeting that ended today,'' he added, referring to the two-day preliminary talks held at the inter-Korean truce village Panmunjeom, which were to lay the groundwork for the holding of higher-level talks.

Nesirky also reiterated Ban's willingness to travel to Pyongyang if it would help ease the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

But, he added, ''The arrangements would need to be right, and such a visit should help to resolve the issues of concern to the international community.''

As a former South Korean foreign minister who was closely involved in negotiations with the North, Ban is watching the developments on the peninsula ''very closely,'' according to Nesirky.

On the recent disclosure of North Korea's secret uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon, which Pyongyang claims is already operational, Nesirky said, ''He (Ban) is aware of the reports. It is clear that all (U.N.) member states have to abide by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.''

The U.N. Security Council has adopted resolutions banning North Korea from conducting any nuclear-related activities.

The Panmunjeom talks were the first between the two Koreas since North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean border island in November last year, which killed four South Koreans and heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has also been blamed for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March last year, which resulted in the death of 46 sailors. An international panel led by South Korea determined that a North Korean torpedo had caused the sinking.

At Wednesday's meeting, North Korea denied its involvement in the sinking and defended its artillery attack on the South Korean island, while South Korea reiterated its position that Pyongyang should apologize and take ''responsible steps,'' the South's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Feb 14, 2011
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