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UN's Ban says he hopes to ease Korea tensions

August 13, 2012


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, talks with South Korea Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik during a closing ceremony of the 2012 Yeosu Expo in Yeosu, South Korea, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.   — Photo by AP

SEOUL: UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday he is seeking a way to ease tensions between North and South Korea, and promised more help to Pyongyang to recover from deadly floods.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said inter-Korean relations had soured recently.

“As the UN secretary-general, I have continually paid attention to this and am thinking hard how to create an opportunity to ease tension on the peninsula leading to reconciliation,” he told reporters during a visit to Seoul.

Cross-border relations have sharply worsened in recent months. The North has threatened “sacred war” against the South's conservative government for alleged insults to, and plots against, its regime.

The North is also grappling with the after-effects of floods that killed 169 people and left 400 missing, according to Pyongyang’s official figures.

Its state media said floods and torrential rain between late June and the end of July also made 212,200 people homeless.

Floods washed away or inundated 65,280 hectares of cropland, in a country already suffering severe food shortages.

UN agencies have visited the worst-hit areas to assess aid needs.

Ban said the world body has a “deep concern” about the situation.

“UN humanitarian bodies have offered necessary support and plan to expand it further,” he said.