Swiss offer to mediate in N Korea crisis
Zurich, April 7, 2013
Switzerland has offered to mediate with North Korea as tension rises on the Korean peninsula following UN sanctions imposed in response to a North Korean nuclear weapon test in February.
The Swiss foreign ministry recently made contact with the North Korean authorities but there are no current plans for any talks, a spokeswoman said.
"Switzerland is willing to contribute to a de-escalation on the Korean peninsula and is always willing to help find a solution, if this is the wish of the parties, such as hosting meetings between them," she said in an emailed statement.
North Korea has issued increasingly strident warnings of imminent war with South Korea and the United States, urging diplomats on Friday to consider leaving Pyongyang.
Swiss media say that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who took over in December 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, apparently spent several years in Switzerland being educated under a pseudonym.
Neutral Switzerland often hosts peace talks and mediates in international conflicts, more recently between Russia and Ukraine and between the United States and Iran and Cuba.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it had been involved in more than 15 sets of peace negotiations in the past seven years, including in Sudan, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Nepal.
Former Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who in 2003 became the first foreign government official to cross the demarcation line separating North and South Korea, said Pyongyang's wishes had not changed much since then.
"For North Korea, symbols are very important," she told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper in an interview. "What the North Koreans still want is recognition and security guarantees from the United States."
Five Swiss and five Swedish officers monitor the demilitarised zone between the North and South. Urs Gerber, the Swiss head of the operation, said not much has changed in recent months. "We are just monitoring the situation more intensively," he also told the SonntagsZeitung. – Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Investors monitoring Pimco after internal strife
- N Korea tanker ‘leaves Libya rebel port carrying oil’
- Malaysia plane incident not terror related: Interpol
- Crimea closes air space to commercial flights
- Missing Malaysian plane last seen At Malacca Strait
- Stolen passport holder on missing plane is Iranian
- China deploys 10 satellites to search for Malaysia jet
- Libya says halts tanker outside port; rebels deny it
- Libya orders military force to 'liberate' ports
- Big bananas: Chiquita, Fyffes merge
- Radar sweeps, dozens of aircraft, but no sign of plane
- N Korea tanker loads oil at Libya rebel port
- Gold drops as US growth optimism weighs
- Merkel raps Putin; Russia tightens grip on Crimea
- World 'at sea' over missing Malaysian jetliner
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects