VK Singh to visit North Korea for peace talks

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

India has sent a government minister to North Korea for the first time in almost two decades for talks on political and regional issues, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, following signs of a thaw on the Korean peninsula.

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.

The statements, combined with joint military drills by South Korean and USA warplanes, mark a dramatic reversal in tone from recent months when both sides embraced efforts to negotiate.

According to the MEA spokesperson, Singh emphasised the "threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India's concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India's neighbourhood" pointing to the transfer of nuclear and missile technology between North Korea and Pakistan.

Xinhua added the North Korean delegation wanted to learn from China's experience regarding economic development, and continue implementing the strategies agreed upon by Xi and Kim in their recent meetings. India has time and again condemned North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

China has always played an active role addressing the issue of the Korean Peninsula and makes consistent efforts to push for its denuclearisation.

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.

As per a release by the Ministry of External Affairs, Singh arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday for a two-day visit to hold bilateral talks on the entire gamut of bilateral relations with his North Korean counterpart and various other high-level officials.

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

However, US insistence of reducing North Korean diplomatic presence in India, as well as Indian diplomatic presence in Pyongyang, had been gently rejected by the Indian establishment. In 2015, North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong had visited New Delhi to hold talks with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

India and North Korea also chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of Yoga and traditional medicines.

Wang, who is also state councilor, reportedly stressed the importance of easing tensions on the peninsula and said the measures North Korea has taken should be acknowledged. India established diplomatic relations with the North 45 years ago and has a small embassy there, but in recent years it halted trade and aid as the United States stepped up global pressure to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes. India had been North Korea's second biggest trade partner after China.

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