VK Singh holds talks in North Korea, first trip in 20 years

The Ministry of External Affairs has remained lip closed regarding the visit of the minister VK Singh, in North Korea and not much detail are available as of now regarding the same.

The dejected state of the embassy is reflective of the current ties between North Korea and India, who first established relations in 1973.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, Singh held discussions with 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 Chol "on a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries". "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. In return, he was reportedly assured that North Korea would keep Indian interests in mind - North Korea and Pakistan have exchanged technologies and equipment in the past. The meeting comes soon after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea for preparatory talks ahead of the Trump-Kim Summit.

The visit followed the presentation of credentials by the new Indian Ambassador, Atul Gotsurve, indicating that Mr. Singh's meetings had been fixed quite recently.

Chief among the talking points, General V.K. Singh raised concerns, in line with New Delhi's previous statements, asking North Korea to address the nuclear proliferation linkages to Pakistan.

The North Korean leadership provided him an overview of some of the recent developments in the peninsula. The visit by Mr. Singh, and the secrecy surrounding it, suggest that India is trying to quietly rebuild ties with the reclusive regime, ostracised by most of the world for its defiance of UN Security Council norms on nuclear weapons.

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. A few months before, the Indian government had also cut all trade ties with the country, except for food and medicine, in compliance with a United Nations resolution.

In what could indicate more trade and interaction now between the two countries, the MEA said, "The two sides chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in the areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines". The two sides agreed to collaborate in a number of spheres, including education, medicine, agriculture and the promotion of cultural practices like yoga.

  • Joey Payne