BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 12:15 GMT
'Millions could starve' in N Korea
Alexander Losyukov in Beijing
Losyukov wants dialogue between the US and N Korea
A United Nations special envoy has warned that North Korea is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis and has called for tensions over the country's nuclear programme to be resolved.

UN envoy Maurice Strong
There is a serious and ominous risk that this crisis could escalate.

Maurice Strong, UN envoy
Maurice Strong, speaking after three days of talks in Pyongyang, warned that the country was on the brink of mass starvation.

He said up to eight million people were in a "life or death" situation.

"You cannot make the children, the ill people, the old people victims of a political crisis with which they have had nothing to do," he said.

Mr Strong was speaking as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov arrived in North Korea to try to resolve the crisis over the country's alleged moves to develop nuclear weapons.

Mr Losyukov, who had earlier held talks with Chinese officials in Beijing, said his mission was aimed at getting the US and North Korea to negotiate.

"It is necessary to use strengths from all sides in order to help promote dialogue," he said.

Correspondents say that, although Russia is one of North Korea's few close allies, Mr Losyukov's visit is unlikely to lead to any rapid breakthrough.

CRISIS CHRONOLOGY
North Korean soldier
16 Oct: N Korea acknowledges secret nuclear programme, US says
14 Nov: Oil shipments to N Korea halted
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon nuclear plant
31 Dec: UN nuclear inspectors forced to leave North Korea
10 Jan: N Korea pulls out of anti-nuclear treaty
11 Jan: Pyongyang suggests it could resume ballistic missile tests
Washington has said it will only talk to North Korea about dismantling its alleged weapons programme.

Pyongyang wants discussions to cover a wider agenda, including economic aid and a non-aggression pact with the United States.

Relations between communist North Korea and the outside world deteriorated over three months ago after the US reported North Korea was developing nuclear weapons - a charge North Korea has denied.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said Washington is looking for a peaceful resolution to the situation.

"We don't want to escalate any crisis. We don't want war," Mr Powell told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, in an interview to be published on Saturday.

Last week, President Bush offered to revive a "bold initiative" to provide North Korea with food and fuel aid if it abandoned its nuclear ambitions.

Pyongyang dismissed the offer as a "deceptive drama".

Core problem

Mr Strong, who was sent by UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, told reporters: "There is a serious and ominous risk that this crisis could escalate.

"If it does, it would escalate, to my view, unnecessarily, because the positions of the parties as they have articulated them are actually quite close to each other."

The core problem was a breakdown of trust and communication with the United States, he said.


Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

17 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
14 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
13 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
13 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes