Thursday, September 28, 2017

Are Switzerland and Sweden the Keys to Easing the North Korean Crisis?

Richard Gowan,

image from

Even U.S. allies are worried that Washington is stumbling toward a new Korean war.  ...

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has offered his good offices to help find a resolution. Although North Korea’s public response has been negative, the U.N. has multiple entry points for discussions about easing the crisis with Beijing, Moscow and Washington—but also with Pyongyang: U.N. officials deliver food aid to North Korea, report on its human rights abuses, track its proliferation efforts and assess the impact of sanctions on the country. 

Guterres nonetheless has little or no power to initiate a new political process to end the crisis. His predecessor, former South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, made a number of well-intentioned but futile efforts to engage with Pyongyang. Guterres is not likely to be able to achieve much more through public diplomacy. But U.N. officials may still be able to act as go-betweens behind the scenes. At a minimum, U.N. agencies should be working on plans to assist in North and South Korea if a war breaks out. ...

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