India’s North Korea ties could be ‘conduit for communications’: Rex Tillerson

Geneva: India’s diplomatic relations with North Korea could have “value as a conduit for communications”, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

Answering a question by reporters on Thursday about India’s refusal to close its Pyongyang embassy, he said: “I think they just indicated they think that office has value as a conduit for communications.”  Asked if he agreed with that assessment, he replied: “It could. It might.”

His statement appeared to give weight to India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s assertion that it could be in US’ interests for India to maintain a mission in North Korea.  Tillerson was in Geneva on his way home from a trip that took him to India and Pakistan.  At a joint news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj said that ties with North Korea had come up in their talks amid Washington’s efforts to totally isolate that country.

“I told Secretary Tillerson that some of their friendly countries should maintain embassies there so that some channels of communication are kept open,” she said, adding, “Our embassy there is very small.”  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.

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