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On DPRK Abductions, Ban Says Involved in UN Denunciation, No Details Yet

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 16 -- The allegations of abductions by North Korea are serious. Serious enough that if UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says as he did this week in South Korea that he is actively involved in getting a UN body to denounce them, his Office should be able to describe his involvement.

  This was described in Yonhap News via the Korea Herald of August 14: Ban "said he 'actively took part' in getting the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to denounce the detentions and urge North Korea to release the women, in May."

   But after 29 hours, the requested description has not been provided. At the August 15 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: The Secretary-General apparently, before leaving South Korea, he said that he was going to be very involved – it was a South Korean media report – that he was going to be very involved in seeking the release of a South Korean couple thought to be abducted by North Korea some time ago. And the quote – this is what I wanted to ask you about – he said, 'Mr. Ban said that he actively took part in getting the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions to denounce the detentions in May.' And, having been here in May, I wasn’t really aware of that. Was there some – what was his involvement? Maybe you’ll know or you can find – what was his involvement in that Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, I’ll have to check on that, Matthew, I don’t have that information with me, OK?

That was OK, August 15 at noon. But when 5 pm hit on the next day August 16, and no information had been provided, this article was called for. Sometimes answers ARE given. Earlier in Ban's trip on August 13 Inner City Press asked:

Question: Sure, I wanted to ask about the Koreas and also Yemen again. I saw that there were these comments by the Secretary-General, after he met with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, about how the two sides should work together. And I just wondered, during this trip, did he make any – did he ask to meet with anyone from the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] side? And, maybe – I don’t know if you’ll know this offhand – but when was the last time he met with a DPRK official? If he’s calling on both sides, is he attempting to speak to both sides?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: I’ll have to find out when the last time he spoke to a DPRK official was. I don’t have that information with me right now, no.

On that question, an answer WAS later provided by e-mail:

"As for your question on the last meeting between the Secretary-General and a DPRK official, the Secretary-General met Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Pak Gil Yon on 28 September 2011 at UN Headquarters."

Did Ban raise the abductees issue at that meeting? Will he during this year's General Debate? Watch this site.

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