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India’s reaction: New Delhi described the meeting as a “positive development”. India’s interest in the summit was encapsulated in the MEA’s reaction — “We also hope that the resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue will take into account and address our concerns about proliferation linkages extending to India’s neighbourhood.”
So, are we friends? India, the world’s largest democracy, and North Korea, the world’s most isolated country (till about last month). are not enemies for sure. Weeks before the Trump-Kim summit, India had reached out to North Korea with
minister VK Singh in Pyongyang last month
+ in the first high-level visit since 1998.
The MEA statement about Singh’s visit described North Korea as a ‘friendly country’.
There have been hiccups in the past—like India blaming the country for selling nuclear tech to Pakistan and voting for sanctions at the UN. India would now be hoping that denuclearisation would help to expose the proliferation conduits between North Korea, China and Pakistan that has been largely responsible for setting Pakistan off on its missile race. India has a stated policy of not wanting to add more nuclear weapons states to the world, and that has remained its approach even for Iran.
However, we have had a history of helping them too. We have trained North Korea’s military officers, people in technology, their diplomats at our institutes. We have sent food when they needed it and they have responded when tragedy struck here (they donated $30,000 after the tsunami of 2004).
India used to be the
third largest trading partner for North Korea until sanctions bit and India clamped down. While most of those sanctions remain in place, India would be looking to exploit whatever opportunity finds its way.
A bonus for Singapore summit is that direct relations between North Korea and the US would dampen China’s influence somewhat, though not completely.
The point is this — If North Korea comes back to the mainstream it will help us.