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UN chief urges calm amid increased tensions over territorial rows

Publication Date : 21-09-2012


Troubled by Asian rifts, Ban Ki-Moon calls for China, Japan and South Korea to ease tensions through bilateral ministerial meetings.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon voiced concern on Wednesday over deepening rifts between Japan and its neighbours China and South Korea over territorial issues.

"I am increasingly troubled by the rising tensions in the [East Asia] region over territorial disputes," Ban told a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York.

The secretary general was referring to ongoing rows between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands (known in China as Diaoyu Islands) in Okinawa Prefecture as well as between Japan and South Korea over the Takeshima islets (known in South Korea as Dokdo) in Shimane Prefecture.

Ban emphasised, "As secretary general, it is not for me to take a position on such territorial disputes." However, he added, "I sincerely hope that the leaders, when they come to the General Assembly, will have the opportunity of meeting [each other] to discuss this matter amicably and peacefully."

As the assembly's general debate will start Tuesday with leaders' speeches, Ban called for the three nations to ease tensions through bilateral ministerial meetings.

At the General Assembly, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is scheduled to deliver an address if he is reelected as the president of his Democratic Party of Japan at the party's presidential election today.

According to diplomatic sources, however, South Korea will send Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan to the General Assembly to deliver a speech. As China is also likely to send a cabinet-level official, the highest leaders of the two countries likely will not come to the General Assembly.

Regarding the Senkaku Islands issue, China appears to be further promoting its call on the world body. Last week, it submitted to the UN chief a nautical chart that identifies areas around the Senkaku Islands as its "territorial waters."

However, according to Ban's press secretary, the United Nations has taken a "neutral position" on the territorial issues and is very careful about its involvement in them.


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