Indian minister visits North Korea after 20 years

Last Updated 16 May 2018, 17:31 IST

India has prodded North Korea to severe its clandestine nuclear and missile ties with Pakistan, as Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh had a rare visit to the reclusive communist country.

Singh's visit to Pyongyang on Tuesday and Wednesday was the first by an Indian minister in two decades. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who was a minister of state for information and broadcasting in the then A B Vajpayee government, was the last Indian minister to visit North Korea in September 1998 to attend the 6th Pyongyang film festival.

Singh met Kim Yong Dae, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Ri Yong Ho, the foreign minister, Pak Chun Nam, minister of culture, and Choe Hui Chol, vice foreign minister of North Korea.

He had a discussion on a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued in New Delhi.

The minister of state for external affairs underscored the threat from nuclear proliferation and conveyed to North Korean leaders New Delhi’s concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with the neighbourhood of India.

India has since long been concerned over North Korea’s clandestine defence technology cooperation with Pakistan. New Delhi, according to sources, suspects that now-revealed Pyongyang-Islamabad secret defence cooperation, which in the mid-1990s led to the supply of Rodong Missiles and technology to Pakistan, is still continuing.

Singh has been assured by Kim Jong Un’s officials that Pyongyang was keen to continue its friendly ties with New Delhi and would not allow any action that would create concerns for the security of India.

The visit came close on the heels of the historic April 27 summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the demilitarised zone on the border between the two neighbours.

Singh conveyed to North Korean leaders India’s support to the joint peace initiative by the leaders of the two Koreas. He told them that New Delhi would continue to encourage both sides to continue efforts towards the establishment of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of the nuclear programme of Pakistan, was in 2003 found to have traded know-how and technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea. In 2011, Khan made public documents in support of his claim that North Korea had bribed senior officials of Pakistani Army and got them to allow him to share nuclear technology and certain equipment with the pariah nation.

New Delhi received inputs, suggesting that certain nuclear materials supplied to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission by the Suntech Technology Company Limited of China in the recent years were being diverted to North Korea in violation of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

(Published 16 May 2018, 15:50 IST)

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