General VK Singh makes surprise visit to North Korea

Posted May 17, 2018

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.

The MEA statament said the minister, who visted the country at their invitation, held discussions with senior leaders including vice-president 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 a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation.

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"We support the improvement of North-South (Korean) relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the USA, denuclearisation on the peninsula and North Korea's development of its economy", Mr Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV. Mr. Singh raised the issue of North Korean links with Pakistan. North Korea stated that the U.S. was considering its intention of denuclearising the Korean peninsula as a sign of weakness.

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 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.

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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". India complied with United Nations sanctions that were imposed on North Korea in 2016-17 and curtailed trade activities with Pyongyang. 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.

After the recent thaw between the US and North Korea, India seems to have changed its strategy, sending Mr. Singh on a diplomatic mission to Pyongyang.

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Pyongyang followed this up with a threat to call off the June 12 summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump to protest his national security adviser John Bolton's statement that North Korea should replicate the "Libyan model" of nuclear disarmament and go for a "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement" of its nuclear programme. Despite the ban on trade, Swaraj had made it clear that India would not put an end to its diplomatic ties with North Korea.