Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

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

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

Earlier, India had welcomed the move when North Korea's Kim Jong-un had visited South Korea last month to meet President Moon Jae-in.

In a surprise development, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh visited Pyongyang for talks with the North Korean government, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Wednesday.

Ties between North Korea and China are showing signs of improvement after going through a tough patch for several years caused by the North's defiant advancement of its nuclear and missile programs.

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Singh's reiteration of India's stand favouring the peace initiative came hours after Pyongyang cancelled a high-level meeting with Seoul - scheduled for Wednesday - in protest against a joint military drill by the US and South Korea, calling it a provocation and a preparation for an invasion.

It may be recalled that in October past year, India had made it clear that it will not shut its embassy in North Korea, telling the United States it must have some friendly countries that have embassies in Pyongyang so that "communication channels are open".

General Singh's visit seems like an effort to rekindle the bilateral after a thaw in relations between North and South Korea as well as with the U.S. Further, Singh reiterated the on-going peace process between North-South Korea as he encouraged both the sides to establish peace and prosperity in the Korean peninsula. "During the visit, the MoS held discussions with Mr Kim Yong Dae, vice-president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Mr Ri Yong Ho, foreign minister, Mr Pak Chun Nam, minister of culture and Mr Choe Hui Chol, vice foreign minister of DPRK on a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries".

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Lu's statements expressed China's stance on the suspension on Wednesday by the DPRK of the inter-Korean meetings due to the development of the military operation Max Thunder between Seoul and Washington.

In what could indicate more trade and interaction now between the two countries, the MEA said, "The two sides made a decision to explore possibilities of cooperation in the areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines".

"It appears that there has been a difference between their positions as North Korea and the US proceed with the meeting", the official told media at a closed-door briefing following the NSC meeting.

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Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said that the US hasn't been notified about North Korea's threat to cancel the summit. Pyongyang's proposed talks with the United States on abandoning its nuclear weapons programme, however, looked uncertain on Wednesday with North Korean officers reportedly claiming the talks may be called off.

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