At a time when North Korea is being engaged by the international community, India has reached out to Pyongyang, with the first minister-level visit to the country in 20 years coming on May 15 and 16, Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday. Hours later, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V K Singh’s “official visit”.
The last minister to visit Pyongyang was Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, then MoS for I&B, to attend the sixth Pyongyang Film Festival in September 1998. While there was no meeting between V K Singh and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he held discussions with four leaders in the North Korean establishment: Vice President of Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim Yong Dae, Foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, Culture minister Pak Chun Nam, and Vice Foreign minister Choe Hui Chol.
They discussed a broad range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries, the most important element from the Indian perspective being North Korea’s assurance that it will “never allow any action that would create concerns for India’s security”. This is in the context of the North Korea nuclear programme having links with Pakistan’s nuclear programme, developed by disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan.
In a statement, the MEA said, “MoS (Minister of State) highli...