Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Indian minister holds talks in North Korea, first trip in 20 years

Indian minister holds talks in North Korea, first trip in 20 years

Interestingly, Singh's visit coincided with the first cautionary note being struck by the North Korean government, as Kim Kye Gwan, the first vice minister of foreign affairs released a statement saying that if the U.S. national security adviser John Bolton continued to advocate the "Libya template" Kim may not even show up at the Singapore summit. 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. "Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to worldwide peace and stability", a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs had said previous year when North Korea had launched its global Ballistic Missile.

North Korea has assured India that as a friendly country, DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security. Mr. Singh raised the issue of North Korean links with Pakistan.

Junior external affairs minister V.K. Singh is on a two-day trip to North Korea in what is the first ministerial visit from India to the DPRK since 1998. The only real sign of movement around the building seems to be the flag fluttering weakly on the roof, which is also the only visible indicator of a North Korean presence.

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The visit came as North Korea threatened to suspend talks with the USA in Singapore on 12 June if they were based on benefits for just one side. This comes after a series of provocative statements by U.S. officials, especially NSA John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the last few days.

The Indian outreach to North Korea comes at a time when old certainties are being challenged everywhere in the world, leading to multiple engagements by all relevant powers.

"It should be stressed that it had taken much effort to achieve a minor improvement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula". We hope that such engagement will help in reducing tension and pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula.

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Kim particularly criticised USA national security adviser John Bolton, who has called for North Korea in order to give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that mirrors Libya's desertion of its weapons because of the mass destruction.

India has always maintained that Pakistan's nuclear scientist A Q Khan had helped North Korea in developing their nuclear programme.

It may be recalled that in October previous year, India had made it clear that it would not shut its embassy in North Korea. North Korean Foreign minister Ri Su Yong had visited India on a bilateral and standalone visit from April 12 to 14, 2015 and had sought humanitarian assistance. But after Singh's visit, India and North Korea will now discuss future cooperation in education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, yoga and traditional medicines. India established diplomatic relations with the North 45 years ago and has a small embassy there, but in recent years it halted trade and aid as the United States stepped up global pressure to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes. Bilateral trade between India and North Korea has declined in recent past mainly due to the latter's inability to carry on foreign trade due to financial crunch.

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