TOKYO: Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday to take concrete steps toward complete denuclearization and gain the trust of the international community if he wants sanctions lifted.
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said "this is the time" to achieve North Korea's denuclearization after nearly a quarter century of unsuccessful efforts, and that the North and the world should not lose this opportunity.
"I'd like to really advise the North Korean leader that the world is ready" to help his country, Ban told The Associated Press, specifically citing South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia.
He said denuclearisation is important for a better future for the two Koreas, including reconciliation and reunification.
"I hope this is the time, please do not lose this opportunity," he said.
Kim sharply raised tensions with nuclear and missile tests last year, but suddenly reached out to South Korea and the United States this year with a vague nuclear disarmament pledge.
US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in say tensions have eased significantly since then, but Ban, who is in Tokyo for a World Bank event, said the crisis is not over and that North Korea should fully disclose its nuclear weapons inventory to a trusted international organisation such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"The crisis is still continuing because of North Korea's development of nuclear, missile and weapons program and materials.
It is North Korea which should clearly state and show by taking actions, then I am sure that there will be no reason why the Security Council of the United Nations will continue to impose the sanction on North Korea," Ban said.