11/16/2015, 00.00
KOREA
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Ban Ki-moon to visit to North Korea, bent by tuberculosis

The Secretary-General of the United Nations will be in Pyongyang later this week. It is the first visit by an international leader to the nation in over 20 years. In May, the trip was canceled the day before he was due to arrive. Sources tell AsiaNews: "The country needs to open some window on the economic and health crisis. TB infections are increasing".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The United Nations Secretary General, the South Korean Ban Ki-moon, is set to visit the northern part of the Korean peninsula "later this week”, according to reports published by Yonhap news agency, citing UN sources.

For its part, the UN Headquarters will not confirm or deny the news. If confirmed, this will be the first visit by a international community leader to t North Korea in 20 years.

In May 2015, Pyongyang canceled a visit to Ban the day before he was scheduled to arrive. As usual, the regime led by Kim Jong-un did not give any reasons for this decision. The former South Korean foreign minister, in his second term, will be the third UN Secretary General to visit the North: the United Nations blue helmets fought alongside the South Korean soldiers during the Civil War of 1959, and since then the Kim government relations with the institution have been cool. A possible meeting with the dictator Kim Jong-un has also been scheduled.

The decision comes as a surprise. Over the last 24 months, Kim has pursued a strategy of tension that has led to the tightening of sanctions from the United States, European Union and United Nations against North Korea.

But the situation, explain AsiaNews sources, "it is getting worse within national borders. The economic crisis that has lasted for at least 10 years is not likely to improve, and the North Koreans have less and less to eat".

According to the source, anonymous for security reasons, there is also a health care factor: "Tuberculosis is now endemic in the country, and the number of infections is on the rise. Preventive action is vital to stop the spread of the disease, but this is made difficult given the lack of medicine. And propaganda does not stop the virus. North Korea needs medicines and adequate facilities, if it fails to access these that this epidemic will explode like what happened centuries ago in Europe with the plague”.

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