In a sign other countries are rushing into the diplomatic breach opened by the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement, a top Indian diplomat is making the first trip by a senior Indian official to Pyongyang in two decades.
V.K.Singh, Indian minister of state for external affairs, this week headed a two-day delegation to North Korea for talks with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and officials from the North’s culture ministry.
India has long had diplomatic relations and embassy in Pyongyang, it has limited ties to North Korea and suspended much of its bilateral trade in 2017 as President Trump was pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” to halt North Korea’s drive for a nuclear weapons program. New Delhi also has accused North Korea of aiding the nuclear program of its neighbor and rival Pakistan.
Analysts say Mr. Singh’s visit, which the Indian press said came at the invitation of the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is a significant gesture to improve ties, and perhaps get a jump on rivals if the current negotiations involving the U.S., North and South Korea lead to a major opening of the North’s isolated economy.
“Now that the environment around North Korea is changing, India may feel like it’s an opportune moment to reach out,” Harsh Pant, head of strategic studies at the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation, told the CNBC financial news network.
But the visit also underscored the difficulties the Trump administration may face if it tries to rally allies to reimpose its “maximum pressure” approach if the North Korean talks fail to make progress.