India is facing increased pressure to reduce North Korea’s diplomatic presence in the country as Pyongyang flexes its military muscles.
During talks with Indian officials last week, a U.S. State Department delegation took up the presence of a large number of North Korean diplomats in India, and urged New Delhi to “shrink” North Korea’s diplomatic footprint in South Asia.
India has criticised recent North Korean missile launches and nuclear tests. However, bilateral political and diplomatic ties, though minimal, have remained on track.
The western pressure is driven by the fact that India and the U.S. have held talks on the North Korean actions most recently during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington on June 27 when both sides “condemned” Pyongyang’s actions.
They also indicated that both sides would “work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programmes”.
The meeting between the U.S. State Department’s officials in New Delhi last week was the first such move after Mr. Modi’s visit.
The Hindu has learnt that the U.S. officials have indicated that they would like to see “less” diplomatic courtesies extended to the North Korean officials present in India.
India has maintained ties with North Korea since the birth of the nation following the Korean war in the 1950s, and North Korea had been an active member of the Non-Alignment movement during the Cold War.
However, bilateral ties cooled in the 1990s when Pakistan extended support to the country’s nuclear programme.
Officials pointed out that ties between Pakistan and North Korea were significant in the past, but it was no longer on the same scale.
The main worries at the moment are the reclusive country’s ability to use global loopholes to bypass the UN-enforced sanctions. Recent reports from Sri Lanka and Pakistan have indicated that North Korea has exploited export rules to earn much-needed foreign remittances.