India looks to revive ties with North Korea

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

The North Korean leader paid two surprise visits to China in recent months, first meeting Xi in Beijing and later in the border city of Dalian.

Xi urged them to further develop bilateral relations and hailed the visit as a "concrete measure" resulting from two summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

As per a release by the Ministry of External Affairs, Singh arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday for a two-day visit to hold bilateral talks on the entire gamut of bilateral relations with his North Korean counterpart and various other high-level officials.

Even as North Korea keeps the world in suspense over its proposed talks with the US and South Korea, the East Asian nation has given its assurance that it will not allow any action that will create concerns for India's security. "The North Korean side emphasised that as a friendly country, it will never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security", the statement said.

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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.

During the unannounced visit on May 15 and 16, Mr. Singh met Vice-President Kim Yong Dae, and the Foreign and Cultural Affairs Ministers and discussed "a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries", the Ministry said in a statement. This is in the context of the North Korea nuclear programme having links with Pakistan's nuclear programme, developed by disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan. In 2017, New Delhi had even refused a request from then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to shut down its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang altogether. 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 United States national security adviser John Bolton continued to advocate the "Libya template" Kim may not even show up at the Singapore summit.

It may be recalled that in October previous year, India had made it clear that it would not shut its embassy in North Korea. "Both sides agreed to strengthen people-to-people contacts through educational and cultural exchange, to mark 45 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries".

Gotsurve, who is one of the senior-most IFS officers to be posted to North Korea by India, presented his credentials to Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK on Monday.

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