NEW DELHI – India on Wednesday rejected the United States’ call to snap trade and diplomatic ties with North Korea in the wake of its continued pursuit of long-range nuclear weapons, according to reports in India media.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that India’s trade relations with North Korea had already been nominal.
New Delhi offered Washington the services of its diplomats posted in Pyongyang to open “a channel of communication between the US and North Korea”, the Deccan Herald reported.
Ms Swaraj also said that New Delhi maintained a small embassy in Pyongyang with few officials and it could serve as a channel of communication between the US Government and Kim Jong-Un’s regime in North Korea.
“As far as shutting down our embassy (in Pyongyang) is concerned, we discussed the issue.
“I told Secretary Tillerson that some of the friendly nations of the US should maintain diplomatic missions in North Korea to make it sure that a channel of communication (between Washington and Pyongyang) remains available,” the FM told reporters while addressing a press conference along with the US secretary of state after they held a meeting at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan, the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs, in New Delhi.
Tillerson nudged Sushma to consider snapping India’s diplomatic relations with North Korea and bring down the volume of trade between the two nations further.
The focus on North Korea comes as US President Donald Trump heads to China next month, where he is expected to urge President Xi Jinping to make good on his commitments to pressure North Korea.
The Embassy of India in Pyongyang has only five officials, led by Ambassador Jasminder Kasturia.
India’s export to North Korea was worth $ 110.88 million and the import was worth $ 87.90 million.
Tension escalated between the US and North Korea this year as Kim Jong-Un’s regime conducted a series of missile and nuclear tests.
This alarmed the world as the tests demonstrated the reclusive nation’s ability to launch ballistic missiles beyond its immediate region.
Tillerson, who toured India on several occasions as an oil executive before joining President Donald Trump’s government this year, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Wednesday.
India is already a major market for the United States, with bilateral trade last year standing at around $115 billion, which the two countries aim to raise to $500 billion by 2022.