India looks to revive ties with North Korea

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During the unannounced visit on May 15 and 16, Mr. Singh met Vice-President Kim Yong Dae, and the Foreign and Cultural Affairs Ministers and discussed "a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries", the Ministry said in a statement.

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.

"We support the improvement of North-South [Korean] relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the USA, denuclearization on the peninsula and North Korea's development of its economy", Xi said.

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. An MEA statement on the visit claimed that the DPRK had assured India that as a friendly country, it would never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security.

North Korea also provided an overview of some of the recent development work in the Korean peninsula.

India's outreach to Pyongyang comes in the wake of global efforts to curb the nuclear proliferation threats emerging from North Korea.

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The last high-level contact between the two countries was three years ago in April, 2015, when the North Korean foreign minister visited New Delhi. We hope that such engagement will help in reducing tension and pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula.

In 2004, Pakistan's most famous nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted to have transferred nuclear technology to North Korea and other nations, a confession that led to his detainment for five years. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said publicly, with then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by his side in October 2017, that "embassies of some of US' friendly countries should remain there so that some channels of communication remain open".

In April previous year, India had sided with the United Nations by banning all trade with North Korea, except for food and medicine. Trade between the two countries totalled $133.4 million in 2016-17, a paltry figure for India, but not insignificant for North Korea, since the former was it's third-largest trading partner.

"The two sides made a decision to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines", it stated. The two leaders also agreed on enhancing people-to-people relations in the field of education and culture.

India, which maintained minimal diplomatic relations with the DPRK despite pressure from Washington to close its mission in Pyongyang and cut trade ties, also used the fragile improvement in North Korea's ties with the United States to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and promotion of yoga and traditional medicines.

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