VK Singh's Surprise Visit to North Korea to Rekindle Dormant Ties?


North Korea on Wednesday said it will never allow any action that will cause security concerns for India, responding to New Delhi's worries linking Pakistan's missile technology access to Pyongyang.

Gen VK Singh, minister of state for external affairs, made a surprise trip to Pyongyang on Wednesday, the first ministerial visit after nearly 20 years.

During the unannounced visit on May 15 and 16, Mr. Singh met Vice-President Kim Yong Dae, and the Foreign and Cultural Affairs Ministers and discussed "a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries", the Ministry said in a statement.

Singh highlighted the threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India's concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India's neighbourhood.

As the KCNA put out more photographs of Singh's programme, the external affairs ministry (MEA) broke its silence in the evening and confirmed that he was on a two-day visit to the DPRK at the invitation of the North Korean government.

General Singh's visit seems like an effort to rekindle the bilateral after a thaw in relations between North and South Korea as well as with the U.S. Further, Singh reiterated the on-going peace process between North-South Korea as he encouraged both the sides to establish peace and prosperity in the Korean peninsula.

Kim particularly criticised US national security adviser John Bolton, who has called for North Korea in order to give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that mirrors Libya's desertion of its weapons because of the mass destruction.

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The highest-level ministerial visit from North Korea in over three decades took place in 2015, when foreign minister Ri Su Yong travelled to New Delhi for a bilateral trip.

The Indian outreach to North Korea comes at a time when old certainties are being challenged everywhere in the world, leading to multiple engagements by all relevant powers.

This year, India imposed fresh restrictions on the "supply, sale, transfer or export" of crude oil.

However, India had refused to scale down its diplomatic presence in North Korea, as suggested by previous USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson in October 2017.

Singh went to North Korea via China and his presence there arrives just ahead of a probable meeting between Kim and United States of America President Donald Trump. In the last month, there has been a dramatic change in tone, with Trump even calling Kim "very honourable".

Earlier, India had welcomed the move when North Korea's Kim Jong-un had visited South Korea last month to meet President Moon Jae-in. The North Korean news agency KCNA carried a statement from first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan that his country would not go ahead with the summit if USA spoke of "Libya-style" denuclearation.