The U.N. chief hailed the Korean War armistice as the “foundation” of peace on the Korean Peninsula on the 70th anniversary of its signing Thursday, while calling for a return to negotiations on North Korea’s denuclearization.
“We need a surge in diplomacy for peace,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement to mark the anniversary, calling the 1953 agreement the “legal foundation for the preservation of peace and stability on the Peninsula.”
Reflecting on the “bloodshed” before the armistice halted the war’s hostilities, he paid tribute to the victims of the war and those affected by the peninsula’s division.
“Today, we honor the memory of all those who perished, and we share in the grief of countless families who have been separated for so long,” he said.
Guterres also called on all parties to foster an environment that supports dialogue, warning that the threat of escalation is growing in the region amid rising tensions, nuclear development and “eroding respect for international norms.”
“Our goals remain clear: sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
The U.N. chief did not specifically mention North Korea in the context of the “increased nuclear risk,” but he has previously stated the onus is on Pyongyang to return to denuclearization talks and endorsed the DPRK’s denuclearization in particular.
North Korea typically bristles at such statements from the secretary-general, and has previously responded by accusing him of “following the U.S. and its vassal forces in their anti-DPRK hostile policy.”
Three and a half years since the DPRK sealed its borders to keep out COVID-19, Guterres also urged Pyongyang to allow U.N. personnel and the international community to return to the country in order to aid North Korea’s people, boost relations and improve communication.
“The United Nations is your steadfast partner as we strive to realize the vision of a Korean Peninsula in which all can enjoy peace, prosperity, and human rights,” he said.