Monday, 21 May, 2018

China Urges to Preserve Atmosphere of Détente on Korean Peninsula

VK Singh is first Indian minister to visit North Korea in 20 years even as Pyongyang reconsiders meeting US on June 12 India looks to revive ties with North Korea
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2018, 12:10

Confirming the visit, the External Affairs Ministry said Singh had held discussions with Kim Yong Dae, Vice-President of the Supreme People's Assembly, Ri Yong Ho, foreign minister and other North Korean leaders on a range of issues, including bilateral cooperation in political, regional, economic, education and cultural fields. Ahead of his 15-16 May visit, New Indian Ambassador Atul Malhari Gotsurve presented his credentials to the President of the North Korean Parliament Kim Yong Nam, who is also the ceremonial head of state.

"We support the improvement of North-South [Korean] relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the USA, denuclearization on the peninsula and North Korea's development of its economy", Xi said. In the past year, India had joined the USA and allies in "deploring" North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests, although it had earlier refrained from such a strong language. An MEA statement on the visit claimed that the DPRK had assured India that as a friendly country, it would never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security.

Xinhua added the North Korean delegation wanted to learn from China's experience regarding economic development, and continue implementing the strategies agreed upon by Xi and Kim in their recent meetings. At that time, it was seen as the result of a request from the US, which has been driving United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

"It should be stressed that it had taken much effort to achieve a minor improvement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula". For it's part, North Korea was said to have reassured India that there would be no threats to its security. However, the timing of Mr. Singh's visit coincided with fresh tensions between Pyongyang and Washington over the nature of the talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled in Singapore for June 12.

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India has always maintained that Pakistan's nuclear scientist A Q Khan had helped North Korea in developing their nuclear programme. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said publicly, with then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by his side in October 2017, that "embassies of some of US' friendly countries should remain there so that some channels of communication remain open".

The pleasantries exchanged are a sign of progress, more so given the MEA's condemnation of North Korea's launch of a nuclear missile in July past year. The US, armed with reports that said India may have "unwittingly" contributed North Korea's rogue behaviour, lobbied with New Delhi to close down its mission and further reduce contacts.

On Wednesday, the MEA said, "The two sides made a decision to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of Yoga and traditional medicines".

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