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Ban hails moves against N Korea workers, envoy

Former UN chief ‘honored’ to meet Amir

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah holds talks with visiting former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday commended HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for reducing the number of North Korean workers in the country and expelling the North Korean ambassador to Kuwait. Addressing members of the diplomatic community at the Saud Al-Nasser Diplomatic Institute in Kuwait City, Ban said the moves demonstrated Kuwait’s support and commitment to UN Security Council resolutions.

“I know that by 2019, there will be no North Korean workers in Kuwait,” he said. “Kuwait has already reduced the number of North Korean laborers to 1,000. Kuwait’s action is a clear demonstration of its leadership and commitment, as Kuwait is poised to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from next year for the next two years,” Ban added in his speech entitled “Leadership of Kuwait in the Changing World”.

According to former UN chief, Kuwait is not the only country that has expelled the North Korean envoy, confirming Mexico, Peru, Spain and Italy also did so. “It is very important to show our firm commitment that until North Korea behaves and stop its provocations threatening peace and stability in the international community, and until North Korea realizes it is defying and fighting the international order, we should be determined in implementing sanctions,” said Ban, who is a former foreign minister of South Korea. He said North Korea’s continued defiant behavior and provocations are unacceptable and are very dangerous to the international community.

“North Korea has admitted to have tested a hydrogen bomb and numerous ballistic missiles, which is against UN Security Council resolutions. We all see the defiant attitude and provocations from their side, and this is very dangerous for us all,” he stressed.

Ban also spoke about the advent of the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, where artificial intelligence (AI) could be more powerful than humans. “What does it mean to us, as humans? Are we going to continue to fight and compete with AI? AI can read minds and people’s emotions, and this is a very serious issue. Many scientists have already become concerned on this subject,” he said.

Ban referred to Google’s AlphaGo, making the case that machines are now smarter than man – when it comes to games of strategy. AlphaGo made its name last year when it defeated high-profile Go player Lee Sedol 4-1, but now it has beaten the world’s best player of Go, a hugely complex ancient strategy game. “I think in less than 10 years, we will have serious issues about AI and we need to use the benefit of technology to face AI, which potentially threatens the very existence of 7.5 billion humans,” he said.

Ban also made a reference to an ‘irresponsible statement’ by US President Donald Trump threatening withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. “I was disappointed when the president of the United States threatened to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Politically speaking, his statement was shortsighted; economically speaking, it’s very irresponsible; and scientifically, the argument was wrong,” he pointed out.

In 2016, Foreign Policy named Ban as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for his achievement of making the Paris agreement a legally-binding treaty less than a year after it was adopted. “We are witnessing stronger and frequent hurricanes, which is connected to climate change. Adjust your way of living and energy consumption instead of wasting energy and resources – these are the issues we agreed upon at the climate summit in Paris in September 2015,” he said. Ban noted that in his 10-year stint as secretary general of the United Nations, he spent most of his time and energy urging people around the world to unite for the Paris agreement.

Earlier, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah held talks at Seif Palace with Ban. This is the former UN chief’s first visit to an Arab nation after relinquishing his post as UN secretary general. Ban said he was “honored to have met His Highness the Amir of Kuwait”, adding that “very important issues were discussed,” both at regional and international levels. He applauded the Amir’s earnest efforts as a mediator in the ongoing Gulf crisis involving Qatar and a quartet of Arab nations, saying he was hopeful that tensions will defuse soon.

He also appreciated HH the Amir’s “continuing compassionate leadership” to assist nations embroiled in conflict, naming Yemen and Syria as examples. Ban congratulated Kuwait on winning a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, which he said was a testament to the country’s growing presence on the international stage.

By Ben Garcia and Agencies


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