Ban urges pressure on Syria, slams N. Korea

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council on Wednesday to overcome its paralysis and take meaningful action on Syria, while he slammed North Korea for its "reckless" nuclear test.

"It is essential for the Security Council to overcome the deadlock and find the unity that will make meaningful action possible," in Syria, Ban said in a speech at the Organization of American States in Washington.

While the 15-member Council remains deadlocked and Syria -- where the UN estimates that nearly 70,000 people have died -- is politically polarized, deaths and human rights violations are mounting, Ban said.

Russia and China have vetoed three western-drafted resolutions which would simply have threatened sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime and a UN-led bid to arrange a ceasefire and peace talks has made no headway.

"It's long past time we resolved this conflict," he said, adding that the international community must keep pushing for a political solution despite the difficulties. "Every day, another 5,000 Syrians flee the country."

On North Korea, which conducted a third nuclear test this week, Ban said: "This was an outrageous and reckless act. I have deep concerns about the impact on regional stability and the global effort to curb nuclear proliferation."

The UN chief said he met Tuesday with the Council, which "strongly condemned the test and is exploring further action."