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

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

world Updated: Oct 27, 2017 18:45 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies, Geneva
India,North Korea,Rex Tillerson
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps off his plane as he arrives on October 26, 2017, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maruland. (AFP Photo)

India’s diplomatic ties with North Korea could act as a “conduit for communications”, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has said against the backdrop of tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

India’s ties with North Korea figured in talks between Tillerson and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during his visit to India on Wednesday.

Answering a question at a news conference in Geneva about India’s decision to retain its embassy in Pyongyang, Tillerson said: “I think they just indicated they think that office has a value as a conduit for communications.”

Asked if he agreed with this assessment, he replied: “It could. It might.”

Swaraj had told Tillerson that India has “minimal” trade with North Korea, and India’s small embassy in Pyongyang should stay so that some channels of communication remain open.

India-North Korea trade dropped from $130 million in 2016-17 to $10.95 million in the current fiscal year, according to official data. In April, India banned all trade with North Korea, except food and medicines, in line with UN sanctions.

Tillerson said the US wants to find new ways to partner with India and other countries in Asia.

“I had a very comprehensive discussion on economic and security links with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, National Security Advisor (Ajit) Doval, and foreign affairs minister Swaraj. It is essential that our two democracies work together to address the challenges facing our people,” he said.

Tensions have been on the rise between the US and North Korea after Pyongyang tested nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching American territories and cities.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 12:11 IST