In the backdrop of aggressive nuclear war-mongering, India held foreign office consultations with Pyongyang, during which North Koreans gave a detailed briefing of their view of the current crisis in the peninsula.
The meeting was held on a day when South Korea claimed that that its northern neighbour had moved a missile with “considerable range” to the east coast, indicating that the latter was implementing its announcement that an attack on the US mainland had been authorized with smaller nuclear weapons.
While the timing of the talks coincided the ratcheting up of tensions by North Korea, sources said the working-level visit had been “scheduled well in advance”.
The previous high-level visit had been of Secretary (east) Sanjay Singh for foreign office consultations in September 2011. MEA joint secretary in charge of East Asia, Gautam Bambawale led the delegation that arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday. The discussions, held on Thursday, revolved around bilateral relations, as well as regional and international event.
In that context, sources said that North Korea explained their “perception” of current situation, in which Pyongyang again seems to be indulging in nuclear brinkmanship.
India has already expressed concern over the “escalating tensions” in the Korean peninsula, and hoped that “peace and stability” would return to the region.
The Indian Embassy in Seoul had on April 1 made an assessment that “from all available indication, there is little likelihood of any imminent or active hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula”.
In its advisory, the embassy said that all its personnel and family members were safe in Seoul, “leading a normal life and following their regular routine”.
It noted that if there were “any adverse development”, the embassy would immediately alert the Indian community. Earlier on Wednesday, observers were alarmed after North Korea stopped access to the Kaesong industrial complex, which houses several South Korean companies employing DPRK citizens - as the complex has never been closed entirely during the frequent flare-ups.
The current crisis started with rhetoric from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un against the ongoing annual military exercises between the US and South Korea. Also, Pyongyang was red-faced after the United Nations Security Council tightened the sanctions for its nuclear test.
Analysts say that North Korea had historically ratcheted up the tensions, when it wanted direct talks with US or assurance of revival of the six-party talks. But, in a demonstration that this tactic may not work this time, China, North Korea’s only ally, seems to be frustrated at Kim Jong-un’s brinkmanship. Further, Russia said that North Korea’s disregard for the view of the international regime on its nuclear programme has virtually shut off any possibility of restarting the six-party talks.