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CNBC Transcript: Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations Secretary General

Key Points

All references must be sourced to a "CNBC Interview".

Interviewed by Nancy Hungerford, Anchor/Correspondent, CNBC.

Nancy Hungerford (NH): And my next guest has a very close eye on the situation. I'm pleased to say we are now joined by the former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Sir, thank you for taking the time to speak to CNBC at this momentous time for the peninsula. The talks tomorrow taking place between South Korea and North Korea. What are you expecting from them?

Ban Ki-moon: We are encouraged to see that the high level bilateral dialogue between South and North Korea is going to take place tomorrow. So it may be a very small opening of reducing tensions and also addressing the issues of facilitating North Korean athletes to PyeongChang Winter Olympic games. We sincerely hope that after some many years of highest the level of tension this will lead to a larger and more meaningful dialogue between the South and North Korea in addressing a meaningful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. This time we expect that they should focus on how to make this PyeongChang Winter Olympic games a platform or venue of harmony and consolation and peace among all the athletes and people around the world. As the chairman of the IOC Ethics Commission and as former secretary general who has been working very hard to promote peace and development through sports, I will do my best.

NH: And why do you think these talks are taking place now? Why do you think that North Korea decided to come to the table when they have, given the very strong rhetoric we've heard from Kim Jong Un out last year?

Ban Ki-moon: Last year, NK has been provocating a lot. Nineteen times so far of ballistic missiles including ICBMs and nuclear weapons. Therefore the level of tension has reached so high, may be most serious since the end of the Korean War. Everybody including Korean people and around the world have shown their deepest concerns about this situation. It is absolutely necessary that we must reduce the level of tension and try to engage in dialogue. This is what is going to happen tomorrow. I sincerely hope that this meeting will be successful and also will lead to a much more meaningful dialogue between the two parties of Korea.

NH: U.S. President Donald Trump has also now said he would be willing to speak with Kim Jong Un. Yet we've also heard from Nikki Haley saying that whatever happens in these talks they won't be satisfied until North Korea gives up their nuclear weapons program. Is that likely?

Ban Ki-moon: The end goal and target of this dialogue and the meetings between the parties concerned should be the denuclearization, complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and for that purpose. This is a very good beginning even though it may be a small one.

NH: And do you think President Trump strong rhetoric towards North Korea has played any role in bringing North Korea to this point of speaking with the South?

Ban Ki-moon: There is a tendency to see President Trump's remarks as very provocative rhetoric. But I would like to interpret that in another way. And these are strong words and message of international community giving to North Korea. North Korea is the worst breaker of international community. The United Nations Security Council has taken 10 sanctions resolutions and there is no such member states which has been defiantly challenging the whole international community. Therefore it is important that the whether it is called Trump rhetoric or not we must be united in sending out united and very strong message to North Korea so that they should realize that there is no other way for them to return to international community as a responsible member abiding by all of these basic norms and principles of the United Nations Charter.

NH: Kim Jong Un also celebrates a birthday tomorrow. Normally we think of these occasions as one to have much celebration and fanfare in the country. Do you think his popularity within North Korea has waned in any way given the cost of these economic sanctions on the people in North Korea?

Ban Ki-moon: Everybody can easily imagine at what kind of level of life the people are undergoing under this type of a sanction measures. They are completely isolated. It's important for any leader of North Korea to work for their own people to make their people's life better. It is a very good opportunity for North Korea to engage seriously and genuinely to use this occasion to address all the issues of the Korean peninsula.

NH: You've spoken previously about the need for China to do more in the way of economic sanctions. Since we last spoke a couple of months ago, they have taken additional steps when it comes to reducing the oil that goes to North Korea and other measures. Are you now satisfied with the measures that China has taken or do you still think they could do more?

Ban Ki-moon: I am grateful to President Xi Jinping of China who has publicly stated that China will faithfully implement all the relevant resolutions of the security council adapted by the Security Council. It's important that all the members of the United Nations should show a firm and united message by faithfully implementing all of these resolutions.

NH: And you spoke to me before about this idea that the U.S. should stick to its commitment in the Iran nuclear deal because it sends a positive message even to North Korea who may be saying what is the ultimate end of these measures, do they hold. Is that still your view and how important is this given that the U.S. administration faces another deadline coming up here on whether or not to certify that deal?

Ban Ki-moon: I have been urging through certain channel to U.S. administration that it's important that the JCP or a joint comprehensive plan of action on Iranian issues must be kept and implemented faithfully as had been agreed among the parties. It's important that this should be carried on. Otherwise this may give a very bad message, negative message to even North Korea when North Korea says while trying to agree with the international community on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Now how can they have trust on the international community, particularly the United States, when any agreement can be easily broken by the parties who have agreed on that.

NH: Sir thank you very much for your time today. We very much appreciate you speaking to CNBC.


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