U.N. chief hopes for momentum from Kaesong park

NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope Tuesday that the revival of an inter-Korean industrial complex will serve as a catalyst for dialogue on denuclearization.

"It is my hope that recent agreement on the resumption of Kaesong Industrial Complex is just the first step towards resuming regular, normal dialogue," Ban said at a press conference here as the 68th regular session of the U.N. General Assembly opened.

Ban, formerly a South Korean foreign minister, noted some positive signs in inter-Korean relations after years of heightened tensions on the peninsula.

"It will be a long process, but I'm glad that the two sides have begun focusing on points of mutual interest rather than disagreement," he said.

He made clear, however, the North's reported resumption of the operation of an once-disabled Yongbyon nuclear reactor, if true, would represent a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions on the communist nation.

Ban reiterated his willingness to play a role, if needed, in promoting peace and stability on Korea.

"Whenever there is an opportunity, whenever I think my visit to Pyongyang will be helpful in promoting and facilitating mutual reconciliation, I will certainly take that opportunity," he said.

North Korea's nuclear weapons drive, along with the Syria crisis and human rights problems in some countries, is expected to be high on agenda in the U.N. session to last through September 2014.

The general debate will run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, excluding the weekend, drawing leaders from about 150 U.N. member states.

South Korea plans to send Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se as its chief delegate. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech on Friday.

Yun plans to stress the need for continued efforts to denuclearize North Korea and raise Japan's wartime sexual slavery issue, according to ministry officials.

North Korea will likely be represented by Vice Foreign Minister Pak Gil-yon, whose speech date has not been fixed.

The reclusive nation has traditionally used such a U.N. event to publicize its position in the face of international pressure.

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