General VK Singh makes surprise visit to North Korea


In 1997-99, the Republic of Korea (ROK; South Korea), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK; North Korea), the United States and China held conversations many times to discuss setting up a permanent mechanism to peacefully address the peninsula issue.

Minister of state for external affairs Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh already began a crucial two-day visit to North Korea on Tuesday.

In the meetings, the Ministry of External Affairs said, the North Korean side provided an "overview" of some of the recent developments in the Korean Peninsula while Singh conveyed India's concerns over proliferation linkages of North Korea with India's neighbourhood, seen as a clear reference to Pakistan. "The North Korean side emphasised that as a friendly country, it will never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security", the statement said.

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Singh's reiteration of India's stand favouring the peace initiative came hours after Pyongyang cancelled a high-level meeting with Seoul - scheduled for Wednesday - in protest against a joint military drill by the US and South Korea, calling it a provocation and a preparation for an invasion. This is the first visit by a senior Indian official to North Korea since 1998.

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a joint statement following a historic summit aimed at improving ties between the two countries.

China called on the DPRK and the United States to create good conditions for the meeting between their leaders and make active efforts to achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea stated that the U.S. was considering its intention of denuclearising the Korean peninsula as a sign of weakness.

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A senior official at the presidential office later said the meeting had seen officials agree "that the US and North Korea should put themselves in the other's shoes".

India and North Korea also chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in areas of mutual interest including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of Yoga and traditional medicines.

The National Security Council, chaired by security adviser Chung Eui-yong, said South Korea will "closely mediate using multiple communication channels with the USA and North Korea so that the summit can proceed successfully".

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After Kim announced that he will relinquish his nuclear programme and offered to hold talks with US President Donald Trump, scheduled in June, Pyongyang on Wednesday also threatened to abandon the talks if Washington continued to insist on pushing it "into a corner" on nuclear disarmament.