North Korea pledges not to create security concerns for India

VK Singh is first Indian minister to visit North Korea in 20 years even as Pyongyang reconsiders meeting US on June 12

VK Singh is first Indian minister to visit North Korea in 20 years even as Pyongyang reconsiders meeting US on June 12

In a significant development, minister of state for external affairs V K Singh paid a quiet visit to Pyongyang to meet the North Korean leadership amid fast-paced developments in the peninsula.

Singh held discussions with North Korea's vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Dae, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, minister of culture Pak Chun Nam and vice foreign minister Choe Hui Cholon on issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries, said the official statement.

Singh is the first Indian minister to visit North Korea in almost two decades.

A North Korean delegation has left Beijing for a tour of provincial Chinese cities to study economic development. From left, Mitoji Yabunaka, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau; James Kelly, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs; Wang Yi, Chinese vice foreign minister; Kim Yong-il, North Korean vice foreign minister; Alexander Losyukov, Russian deputy foreign minister; and Lee Soo Hyuck, South Korean deputy foreign minister.

Despite North Korea being osctracised by most of the world for its defiance of UNSC norms on nuclear proliferation, India has maintained diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

China has always played an active role addressing the issue of the Korean Peninsula and makes consistent efforts to push for its denuclearisation. We hope that such engagement will help in reducing tension and pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula.

It may be recalled that in October a year ago, India had made it clear that it would not shut its embassy in North Korea.

In its report of the delegation's trip to China, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English report:"Welcoming the friendship group's visit to China, Xi Jinping said that China is attaching very importance to the work to propel the traditional friendship between the two countries sealed in blood to a higher stage as required by the new era".

In a missive delivered to the South in the early hours during the day, the North said it was suspending high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday in view of "provocative military disturbances with South Korea".

The two sides also made a decision to explore further ties in vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, yoga and traditional medicines to mark 45 years of diplomatic relations. "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". 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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