India on Tuesday joined countries around the world in welcoming the epochal summitbetween US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ,who pledged to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But, in an oblique reference to Pakistan, a statement by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said New Delhi’s concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation linkages with India’s neighbourhood should be addressed.
“India welcomes the United States-DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Summit held in Singapore. This is a positive development. India has always supported all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy,” the MEA said in a statement.
“We hope that the outcomes of the US-DPRK Summit will be implemented, thus paving the way for lasting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” said the MEA.
“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,” it added. India has been urging an investigation into the linkages between North Korea’s nuclear programme and the proliferation network in its neighbourhood.
After their summit at the Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa Island,Trump and Kim signed a comprehensive document, with the US president saying the process of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula will begin “very soon.” Kim promised to leave behind an often bitter past.
India, like Singapore, the venue of the historic meeting, enjoys good ties with both the US and North Korea. New Delhi has held that it wouldn’t either prune or close its mission in North Korea, resisting US pressure to slash its diplomatic presence in Pyongyang.
“The Trump-Kim summit was no doubt an epochal event. The joint statement implicitly links denuclearisation to ‘new US-DPRK relations’ and to mutual confidence building (that) can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. So the summit begins a long process of bargaining,” said strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney.
Bharat Karnad, a national security expert and a member of the first National Security Advisory Board of India’s National Security Council, where he participated in the Nuclear Doctrine Drafting Group, doesn’t agree. “The summit showed Kim as a shrewd negotiator on the world stage. It wouldn’t be easy to expect that North Korea would give up its nuclear programme and stockpiles. They will string the US along till the year-end,” he said.
Trump’s declaration that the US would stop war games with South Korea is the first step in the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, said Chellaney.
“Trump and Kim have committed to denuclearisation of the entire Korean Peninsula. Such a nuclear-weapons-free zone will demand concessions by the US, Seoul, Beijing and Moscow. Trump’s suspension of war games is a first step,” said Chellaney.
After the summit, Trump announced that he was putting an end to the annual US-South Korean military drills and that he wants to remove the 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against a potential North Korean attack.
“Trump has pulled off something that could make him a man of history and strengthen his America First project — howsoever unpalatable the thought is that Trump might become a winner in the overall bargain,” said MK Bhadrakumar, a former diplomat and commentator.