India and North Korea are hitting the restart button on their relationship

  • India and North Korea are hitting the restart button on their relationship

India and North Korea are hitting the restart button on their relationship

The move was actually precipitated by India's concern over Pakistan's supposed access to North Korea's missile technology, strategically phrased as "proliferation linkages in India's neighbourhood".

Confirming the visit, the External Affairs Ministry said Singh had held discussions with Kim Yong Dae, Vice-President of the Supreme People's Assembly, Ri Yong Ho, foreign minister and other North Korean leaders on a range of issues, including bilateral cooperation in political, regional, economic, education and cultural fields.

The assurance came during Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh's two-day visit to North Korea that concluded on Wednesday.

India's outreach to Pyongyang comes in the wake of global efforts to curb the nuclear proliferation threats emerging from North Korea. The North Koreans also briefed Mr Singh on the recent developments in the Korean peninsula, including the peace talks between the two Koreas. Despite the ban on trade, Swaraj had made it clear that India would not put an end to its diplomatic ties with North Korea. In the past year, India had joined the US and allies in "deploring" North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests, although it had earlier refrained from such a strong language.

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.

In April past year, India had sided with the United Nations by banning all trade with North Korea, except for food and medicine. 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.

At a time when North Korea is being engaged by the worldwide community, India has reached out to Pyongyang, with the first minister-level visit to the country in 20 years coming on May 15 and 16, Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday.

"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.

In what could indicate more trade and interaction now between the two countries, the MEA said, "The two sides chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in the areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines".