UN chief to Hiroshima for 77th anniversary of atomic bomb

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UNITED NATIONS (TBEN) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Monday that he will attend the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing in Hiroshima, “at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War .”

The UN chief made the announcement in his speech on the opening day of the four-week meeting to review the landmark Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and achieving a nuclear-free world.

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Guterres said his visit to Hiroshima for a few days is to underline the importance of the conference. He said he will then visit two other countries in the region, which he has not named, to promote non-proliferation.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. Three days later, it dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, killing 70,000 more. Japan surrendered on August 15, ending World War II and nearly half a century of Japanese aggression in Asia.

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UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general will travel to Japan on Thursday and participate in the annual ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on Saturday.

“The ceremony is intended to comfort the souls of those lost to the atomic bombings, and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace,” Dujarric said. “The Secretary General will honor the victims of the bombings, commemorate all victims of World War II and reiterate his call on world leaders to urgently eliminate stockpiles of nuclear weapons.”

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During his visit, Guterres will also meet senior Japanese officials and survivors of the bombings and participate in a dialogue with young activists “leading initiatives on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and other global issues,” Dujarric said.