VK Singh holds talks in North Korea, first trip in 20 years

VK Singh holds talks in North Korea, first trip in 20 years

Singh met a delegation including Kim Yong Dae, Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Minister of Culture Pak Chun Nam and North Korea Vice Foreign Minister Choe Hui Chol.

Observers say the delegation's visit is part of North Korea's efforts to rebuild its economy with an eye on economic cooperation from China and the easing of sanctions on Pyongyang. The North Koreans also briefed Mr Singh on the recent developments in the Korean peninsula, including the peace talks between the two Koreas.

North Korean officials also discussed the recent peace initiatives with South Korea and the proposed talks with the United States. "The DPRK (North Korean) side emphasized that as a friendly country DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security". North Korea stated that the USA was considering its intention of denuclearising the Korean peninsula as a sign of weakness. India has time and again condemned North Korea's nuclear ambitions. 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.

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. New Delhi rejected the then U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson's request to shut down its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang.

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".

"Welcoming the friendship group's visit to China, Xi Jinping said that China is attaching very importance to the work to propel the traditional friendship between the two countries sealed in blood to a higher stage as required by the new era", the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English report.

"The two sides chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines", it stated. India had said that its trade with North Korea was in any case "minimal" and that it has a "small" embassy in Pyongyang.

China is North Korea's most important economic partner and has long sought to convince its neighbour to follow Beijing's path of enacting free market reforms while maintaining tight single-party rule.