Hopes rise of nuclear breakthrough as United Nations chief visits North Korea

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said that the South Korean government will roll up its sleeves in attracting infrastructure investments of up to US$63 billion annually for North Korea and other parts of Northeast Asia if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear program.

Ban had been all set to make the trip in May, before Pyongyang canceled the plan at the last minute. “He will be in NY most of next week and then travel to Malta for the Commonwealth Summit”, Stephane Dujarric said, in a statement.

Earlier reports had said that he was due to visit for four days and would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As Ban would also face questions over the whole point of his visit, it is possible that he demanded a guarantee of a meeting with Kim.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency indicated that negotiations may be under way regarding a visit by Ban, saying the case was in the process of confirmation.

Prior to his career at the United Nations, Ban served in the South Korea’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Two serving United Nations chiefs have travelled to the North. Kurt Waldheim visited the capital, Pyongyang, in 1979 and again in 1981, followed by Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.

North Korea’s rights record has been called abysmal and led to a recommendation that the country be prosecuted by the global Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The North Korean travel firm has “more than 200 foreign counterparts”, it said.

Under global sanctions over nuclear and missile ambitions, North Korea has promoted tourism as a source of earning much-needed hard currency since Kim took power in late 2011.

“The draft resolution is the product of political confrontation and vicious slander of the hostile forces against my country and it has nothing to do with the genuine promotion of human rights”, North Korean ambassador-at-large Ri Hung-sik told a news conference.

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