On May 16th, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that V.K. Singh, the minister of state for external affairs, had embarked on a two-day trip to North Korea- the first such visit by an Indian minister in two decades.
The visit by General Singh closely followed the presentation of credentials by the new Indian Ambassador Atul Gotsurve to Pyongyang. The North Koreans also briefed Gen. Singh about the recent developments in the Korean peninsula including the peace talks between the two Koreas. From left, Mitoji Yabunaka, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau; James Kelly, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs; Wang Yi, Chinese vice foreign minister; Kim Yong-il, North Korean vice foreign minister; Alexander Losyukov, Russian deputy foreign minister; and Lee Soo Hyuck, South Korean deputy foreign minister.
According to the MEA spokesperson, Singh emphasised the "threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India's concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India's neighbourhood" pointing to the transfer of nuclear and missile technology between North Korea and Pakistan.
“Whatever deal comes out from those talks is going to be beneficial for President Donald Trump one way or another
Senior North Korean officials are in China this week to learn about economic development and further restore relations between the two countries.
India's outreach to Pyongyang comes in the wake of global efforts to curb the nuclear proliferation threats emerging from North Korea.
Singh is said to have reiterated India's support to the joint peace initiative of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea leadership, encouraging both sides to establish peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula. "As we have said before, we also believe that any solution to the issues in Korean Peninsula must also take into account and address concerns about the proliferation linkages of DPRK's nuclear and missile programme", MEA's official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said, in a reference to links between Pakistan's nuclear programme and the North Korean nuclear and missile programme. In a statement issued by its First Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan on Wednesday, North Korea threatened to call off the talks if the Trump administration made denuclearisation a precondition. The last high-level contact between the two countries was three years ago in April 2015 when the North Korean foreign minister had visited New Delhi and held discussions with the Indian government. The two sides agreed to collaborate in a number of spheres, including education, medicine, agriculture and the promotion of cultural practices like yoga. Interestingly, Singh's visit coincided with the first cautionary note being struck by the North Korean government, as Kim Kye Gwan, the first vice minister of foreign affairs released a statement saying that if the United States national security adviser John Bolton continued to advocate the "Libya template" Kim may not even show up at the Singapore summit.