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General VK Singh makes surprise visit to North Korea

17 May 2018

Following North Korea's re-entry into the hallways of global diplomacy - marked by a handshake between the leaders of both the Koreas and visits by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo - India seems ready to renew ties with the country.

"If the U.S.is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and can not but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit", Kim Kye Gwan said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In a significant development, minister of state for external affairs V K Singh paid a quiet visit to Pyongyang to meet the North Korean leadership amid fast-paced developments in the peninsula. The only real sign of movement around the building seems to be the flag fluttering weakly on the roof, which is also the only visible indicator of a North Korean presence. However, the timing of Mr. Singh's visit coincided with fresh tensions between Pyongyang and Washington over the nature of the talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled in Singapore for June 12.

DPRK ministers also gave Singh an overview of some of the recent developments in the Korean Peninsula.

"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.

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Singh reiterated India's support to the joint peace initiative of North Korea and South Korea and encouraged both sides to seeking peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula.

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 pleasantries exchanged are a sign of progress, more so given the MEA's condemnation of North Korea's launch of a nuclear missile in July past year. This is the first ministerial-level visit from India to DPRK after nearly 20 years. But after Singh's visit, India and North Korea will now discuss future cooperation in education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, yoga and traditional medicines. "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".

Gotsurve, who is one of the senior-most IFS officers to be posted to North Korea by India, presented his credentials to Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK on Monday. Bilateral trade between India and North Korea has declined in recent past mainly due to the latter's inability to carry on foreign trade due to financial crunch.

General VK Singh makes surprise visit to North Korea