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 assurance came during Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh’s two-day visit to North Korea that concluded on Wednesday. This was the first ministerial-level visit from India to North Korea in 20 years.
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 statement said the North Korean side “provided an overview of some of the recent developments in the Korean Peninsula”.
Singh reiterated India’s support to the joint peace initiative of North and South Korean leadership, encouraging both sides for their efforts towards establishment of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
Singh also highlighted the threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India’s concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India’s neighbourhood.
“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) side emphasised that, as a friendly country, DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India’s security,” the External Affairs Ministry statement said.
“The two sides decided to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines,” it stated.
“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.”
After weeks of improving ties on the Korean Peninsula, capped by the dramatic image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, things took a sudden step backwards on Wednesday.
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”.
After Kim announced that he will relinquish his nuclear programme and offered to hold talks with US President Donald Trump, scheduled in June, Pyongyang on Wednesday also threatened to abandon the talks if Washington continued to insist on pushing it “into a corner” on nuclear disarmament.
A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said Pyongyang would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear programme.