Indian Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh in North Korea


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July, 5, 2017.

KCNA | Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July, 5, 2017.

“Now that the environment around North Korea is changing, India may feel like it’s an opportune moment to reach out, perhaps in potential anticipation of the country opening up,” said Harsh Pant, distinguished fellow and head of strategic studies at New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation.

Despite some hiccups in international efforts to restrict North Korea’s nuclear weapons — Kim Jong Un’s administration on Wednesday threatened to withdraw from a June 12 meeting with President Donald Trump — tensions on the Korean Peninsula have greatly subsided from last year’s regular missile launches.

And now that the White House is reaching out to Kim — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend mentioned the potential for private investment in the underdeveloped state — New Delhi likely wants to follow suit.

“The visit may have been spurred by the recent developments in U.S.-North Korea relations,” said Amit Cowshish, a former advisor at the Indian Ministry of Defense and current partner with law firm Dua Associates.

But that isn’t to say India is looking to inject itself into nuclear negotiations.

Rather, “the purpose of the visit seems to be to explore the possibility of resetting mutual relations in the context of India’s Act East policy,” Cowshish stated, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy initiative of warming up to Asian neighbors.



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