FRANKFURT AM MAIN
Germany would lend its weight to a diplomatic push to end North Korean nuclear weapons and missile development along the lines of a past deal with Iran, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the showdown was the world’s worst crisis “in years”
“I would say yes immediately if we were asked to join talks,” Merkel told weekly newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Talks between Iran and six world powers, sealed with a 2015 deal for Teheran to roll back its nuclear programme and submit to inspections in exchange for some sanctions being rolled back, were “a long but important period of diplomacy” that had achieved a “good end,” she added.
“I could imagine such a format for the settlement of the North Korea conflict. Europe and especially Germany ought to be ready to make a very active contribution,” Merkel said.
The chancellor said she had held telephone talks with the leaders of France, the United States, China, South Korea and Japan about the North Korea crisis over the past week.
Merkel’s comments come as Washington has formally requested a Monday vote on tough new sanctions for Pyongyang at the UN Security Council.
Merkel said that she backed sanctions as a means of bringing North Korea to the negotiating table.
“To date, we have had wars which have been initiated after a well thought-out decision,” Guterres said in an interview published by the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
“But we also know that other conflicts have started through an escalation caused by sleepwalking.
“We have to hope that the seriousness of this threat puts us on the path of reason before it is too late,” said Guterres, according to the French language account of the interview.
“It’s the most serious (crisis) that we have had to face in years,” he said, admitting he was “very worried”.
Guterres said the key question was to get North Korea to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile programme and respect UN Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un praised the “perfect success” of the country’s sixth and largest nuclear test and urged further weapons development, according to state media on Sunday.
Pyongyang held a banquet, in a weekend display of pageantry to celebrate the September 3 nuclear test, which the North said was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a rocket.
In another development, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme represented a “global threat and requires a global response”.