Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said on Thursday that he would visit North Korea in the next month or two to help persuade the isolated communist country to avoid nuclear war with South Korea and the U.S.
Tensions in the region have increased recently, though none of the countries have made a declaration of intent to wage war.
“I will take a private visit to North Korea to ask the country’s leader to stop their plan of starting a nuclear war because we understand that when a pair of elephants are fighting, they will kill the ants on the ground,” the prince said on Thursday during an interview with reporters at the Royal Palace.
The prince’s father, King Norodom Sihanouk, enjoyed close ties with former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung springing from both countries’ membership in the Cold War’s non-aligned movement during the 1960s.
The late king frequented a sprawling palace built by his friend outside Pyongyang during his years in exile, and loaned the house where he was born near Independence Monument for use by the North Korean Embassy.
“I hope that the leaders of North Korea will listen to me because my father had a long relationship with their former leaders,” Prince Ranariddh said.
The visit was planned for late next month or early July, he added.
The Koreas technically remain at war, with tensions mounting in recent weeks after nuclear tests by the north and the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system (Thaad) in its ally South Korea.
“We welcome a negotiation plan between the two countries, and I have heard that the newly elected president of South Korea will visit North Korea for negotiations to prevent the war,” Prince Ranariddh said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said there were no objections to the visit as the government shared the prince’s goals and believed the family’s historic ties would allow him to help reduce tensions.
“Even if this is a personal visit, it will respond to the government’s policy because our government does not want to see nuclear war in the region,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has regularly warned North Korea against nuclear tests, and urged all sides of the dispute to tone down their rhetoric or risk dragging other countries in the region into conflict during a speech earlier this week.
“I’m not advising the president or the leaders of other countries, but your words make an impact on other countries,” he said on Monday, while also discounting the possibility of war actually breaking out.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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