In a surprise development, Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, General V K Singh yesterday (15 May) reached Pyongyang and held talks with the North Korean regime, News18 has reported.
The talks were held on a wide range of subjects, including ‘political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries’, according to a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement.
Singh also raised concerns over the regime’s alleged linkages with Pakistan in the context of nuclear proliferation. India has raised the issue of Pakistan’s alleged role in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program several times in the past.
The two sides also discussed the recent peace initiatives between North and South Korea as well as the proposed summit between United States (US) President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"MoS reiterated India’s support to the joint peace initiative of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and Republic of Korea (ROK) leadership, encouraging both sides for their efforts towards establishment of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
MoS highlighted the threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular, India’s concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India’s neighbourhood. The DPRK side emphasised that as a friendly country DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India’s security," the statement released by the MEA read.
According to The Hindu, this is the first such diplomatic mission in the last two decades.
The visit comes at a time when the peace talks between the two Koreas are facing the threat of getting derailed after South Korea and the US held a military exercise which North Korea has described as a threat to itself.
Earlier, India had resisted pressures from the US to snap off ties with North Korea when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had requested New Delhi to shut its mission in Pyongyang. North Korea too has an embassy in India.
India had, however, placed restrictions on any trade with the country other than food materials and medicines. India is among North Korea’s biggest trading partners with exports to the country roughly totalling $60 million in 2013.