Speaking Of Asia

South Korean elder statesman Ban Ki-moon voices his worry over North's denuclearisation

Mr Ban Ki-moon says that since the Singapore Summit, Pyongyang has shown no sincerity in implementing the US-North Korea Agreement, which was focused on complete denuclearisation.
Mr Ban Ki-moon says that since the Singapore Summit, Pyongyang has shown no sincerity in implementing the US-North Korea Agreement, which was focused on complete denuclearisation.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon fears that disappointment will set in if Washington fails to keep up the push for North Korea's denuclearisation after the historic Singapore Summit.

From his retirement home in Seoul, Mr Ban Ki-moon, South Korea's elder statesman, is fully aware of the optimism seizing his land at the prospects of improved ties with the North, thanks to the two summits between the two in rapid succession and an unprecedented meeting in Singapore between the leaders of North Korea and the United States. His own president, Mr Moon Jae-in, has been enthusiastically promoting the peace effort, sometimes as a go-between for Chairman Kim Jong Un and Mr Donald Trump.

Yet, as he watches the developments on the Korean peninsula, the former United Nations secretary-general must be excused for feeling that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Most recently, these include US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's early July visit to Pyongyang. This week, President Trump said that while the talks with Pyongyang on denuclearisation are "going very, very well" there is no rush for speed and "we have no time limit".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'S. Korean elder statesman voices his worry'. Print Edition | Subscribe