North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong arrived in India on Sunday, marking the first visit from a DPRK FM to the country in 25 years, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and Indian media reported.
The DPRK envoy is expected to meet with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Vice-President Hamid Ansari. The diplomatic visit comes just one month before India’s Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to South Korea.
Citing anonymous sources, the Business Standard reported Ri will brief India on the DPRK’s nuclear program. Discussions about providing the DPRK with food and educational aid could also be on the table.
India is expected to reiterate their official stance on maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The KCNA Watch data tool shows that North Korean media makes relatively little mention of India, especially when compared to the U.S., the KCNA’s primary target for hostile reporting, and allies like China.
Despite limited diplomatic interactions, India places highly on the list of North Korea’s import and export partners. According to experts the DPRK could also be looking to broaden its trade horizons.
“In order for North Korea to survive, it will be forced to find new trade partners, Russia is one at this moment. But expanding the market can never harm the DPRK’s economy, I believe that Ri’s main goal would be strengthen the economic potential between the two countries,” Jung Eun-lee at the Institute for Social Sciences, Kyung-sang University told NK News.
Last year, in terms of export value, India was second only to China as a destination for North Korean goods, especially silver.
Imports from India to the DPRK shrunk significantly over the last four years, however trade interactions in the other direction increased by a large margin.
According to the ITC Trade Database, exports from North Korea to India recovered from just $137,000 in 2012 to nearly $110 million last year.
A previous NK News investigation found India may have recently breached UN luxury goods sanctions in what appear to be numerous exports of precious stones and metals to the DPRK over the last two years.
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Featured Image: Sun setting over the Presidential Palace, New Delhi by Larry Johnson on 2011-03-08 04:22:13