• Kyodo

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday expressed his desire to visit Hiroshima next year after canceling his planned trip to the city earlier this year, on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I hope I will be able to go to Hiroshima next year," Guterres said during an online news conference with Japanese media.

"I'd like to express my deep frustration for the fact that I was unable to visit Japan," he said, adding "I want to express to the hibakusha, to the people of Hiroshima, to the people of Japan, my deep solidarity and my total commitment to do everything possible for a world rid of nuclear weapons."

Nuclear disarmament has been "a priority of the U.N. since its beginning," Guterres said.

In late June, he decided not to visit Hiroshima this summer due to ongoing travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, Guterres became the first sitting U.N. head to attend Nagasaki's memorial service for the atomic bombing that occurred three days after the Hiroshima attack on Aug. 6, 1945.

On U.S. calls for China to join the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Guterres said that the United States and Russia should extend the pact regardless of China's participation.

"I do believe that the New START should be renewed independently of whatever might happen with China," he said.

The only remaining treaty capping the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals is set to expire in February 2021. Russia has offered to extend the treaty, but the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been eager to pursue a framework that also involves China, which is bolstering its nuclear and missile forces.

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