As the sanctions-hit North Korea sent its Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong to New Delhi to ask for humanitarian assistance on Monday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj agreed to consider the request “positively”, the Ministry of External Affairs officials said.
This is the first-ever North Korean Foreign Minister to visit India and the visit comes a month ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to South Korea. The visiting minister conveyed North Korea’s appreciation for the humanitarian assistance provided by India in the past.
However, India is mindful of the concerns raised by the international community, especially South Korea and the US, on the security situation. Swaraj on Monday conveyed India’s security concerns to Ri, and emphasised the significance of peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.
She reiterated India’s stand “on the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, including the objective of de-nuclearising”.
Thanking Swaraj for the hospitality extended to him and his delegation, Ri invited her to visit DPRK. He also called on Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
India has been extending humanitarian assistance to North Korea, which has suffered food shortages during the last few years as a result of natural disasters. In 2011, New Delhi provided food assistance worth $1 million through the World Food Programme. The assistance provided by India comprises consignments of blankets, rice, wheat, baby food, polythene sheets etc. In the past, India donated 2,000 MT of white rice in September 2002 and 1,000 MT of rice in July 2004. 200,000 Dexamethasone 4 mg (1 ml injection) were also provided. New Delhi also donated medicines for the victims of the Ryongchon train blast. It also provided 2,000 MT of rice in January 2006.
Despite sanctions and other multi-national efforts, the international community has not been able to curb the deep ambitions of Pyongyang, which has conducted several nuclear tests. This has lead to tougher sanctions imposed on North Korean banking, travel and trade, reflecting the country’s increased international isolation.