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.
In what is seen as an attempt by New Delhi to reach out to the North Korean leadership after a long gap, Singh reached Pyongyang from China, accompanied by a delegation of senior officials of his ministry.
Singh is the first Indian minister to visit North Korea in nearly two decades. Ahead of his 15-16 May visit, New Indian Ambassador Atul Malhari Gotsurve presented his credentials to the President of the North Korean Parliament Kim Yong Nam, who is also the ceremonial head of state.
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 North Korean leadership provided him an overview of some of the recent developments in the peninsula. Singh reiterated India’s support for the joint peace initiative of North and South Korean leaderships, encouraging both sides to continue their efforts for peace in the peninsula. He also highlighted the threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India’s concerns in the context of proliferation linkages with the country’s neighbourhood.
The visit came as North Korea threatened to suspend talks with the US in Singapore on 12 June if they were based on benefits for just one side. North Korea stated that the US was considering its intention of denuclearising the Korean peninsula as a sign of weakness.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is also expected to visit India in mid-July to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprise him of the developments in the peninsula.