US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is hopeful that India’s diplomatic relations with North Korea could be of “value as a conduit for communications” in US’ interests.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, Tillerson responded to a question about India’s refusal to close its Pyongyang embassy saying, “I think they just indicated they think that office has value as a conduit for communications.”
When asked if he agreed with that assessment, Tillerson replied, “It could. It might.”
Tillerson, who was in India recently, also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is driving closer ties with the United States.
COULD INDIA-NORTH KOREA TIES HELP THE UNITED STATES?
External Minister Sushma Swaraj was at a joint news conference with Tillerson in New Delhi on Wednesday. While talking about India’s diplomatic ties with North Korea, Swaraj said she told the top US diplomat that some level of diplomatic presence was necessary to keep open channels of communication.
“As far as the question of embassy goes, our embassy there is very small, but there is in fact an embassy,” she said. “I told Secretary Tillerson that some of their friendly countries should maintain embassies there so that some channels of communication are kept open.”
Tillerson’s statement appeared to give weight to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s assertion that it could be in US’ interests for India to maintain a mission in North Korea.
India and North Korea maintain diplomatic offices in each other’s capitals, though New Delhi recently banned trade of most goods with the country, except food and medicine.
Tensions have been on the rise between the US and North Korea with Pyongyang testing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching major US cities. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has directly threatened the US and its President Donald Trump of retaliation.
The US has been pressing all countries to isolate North Korea and enforce strict sanctions against it.