World Council of Churches calls for an end to the tensions on the Korean peninsula

North Korean army officers punch the air as they chant slogans during a rally at Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang, North KoreaAP

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches is urging a return to diplomatic talks to resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Reverend Dr Tveit Olav Fykse Tveit stressed the need to "end to the ongoing threats and intimidation" from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "for the sake of all in the region".

North Korea`s current attitude "could result in a catastrophic situation that no one wants", Tveit said.

He wants to see an immediate move to dialogue on peace, reconciliation and reunification.

His call follows a statement in February in which he highlighted "an urgent need for the members of the Six-Party Talks [North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and US], to return to their own earlier path of negotiations and confidence-building".

North Korea has made several threats against South Korea and the US since the beginning of the year.

On 13 March, North Korea declared an end to the 1953 Armistice and said that it was "not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression".

North Korea has also threatened a nuclear strike on the US and told foreign diplomats to leave the capital, Pyongyang, saying their safety cannot be guaranteed in the event of conflict.

Dr Tveit asked for prayers for the North and South Korean Christian communities.

"We stand with our brothers and sisters in our South Korean member churches who during the past 60 years have worked hard, along with the WCC, to reach out to the churches in North Korea with the goal of seeking reunification and reconciliation."

He said there were no plans to change the venue of the WCC's forthcoming General Assembly in Busan, South Korea.

The Korean peninsula "needs a message of justice and peace", he said.

Holding their General Assembly in South Korea would be "an expression of the hope of the worldwide church and churches in Korea for pursuing peace and reconciliation on the there", he explained.

The 10th General Assembly will take place in Busan in the autumn.

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