South Korea seeks India’s support in achieving lasting peace in peninsula


File photo of South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Photo|AP)

File photo of South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Photo|AP)

South Korea on Wednesday said India can play an “important role” in working towards lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula as it urged New Delhi to persuade Pyongyang to recalculate its strategy to change its course to denuclearisation.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Enna Park, also said that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is slated to visit India early next month, and during his summit with Prime Minister Modi, the two leaders will link their own initiates Moon’s New Southern Policy and Modi’s Act East Policy.

Her remarks assume significance as during the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week in Singapore, the latter had pledged to work towards “complete denuclearisation” in return for security guarantees from the US.

“It was a historic meeting, the US-North Korea leader-level talks, and they started to build trust for each other, started negotiations and set the tone. We should not lose this historic momentum and work together to make the peace initiative a success,” she told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

Asked what role did Seoul see for India in this bid for lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula, she said, India’s role is important, because “we seek full support” from whole international community, including India.

“India as the largest democracy plays quite an influential role in forming international opinion. And, if international opinion supports peace initiative of South Korea, it will back up our initiative very effectively. “And, so we want India to continue to persuade North Korea to recalculate its strategy to make a decision to change its course to denuclearisation,” Park said.

India had welcomed the United States-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) Summit as a “positive development”, saying it has “always supported all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy”.

Asked about India’s engagement with North Korea, especially in the context of it having its embassy in Pyongyang and visit of Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh to that country, Park said, “Such engagement from the Indian side is very much positive.”

In the first high-level visit to North Korea from India in two decades, Singh visited Pyongyang last month where he held talks with several leaders including Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on key issues and raised New Delhi’s concerns over nuclear proliferation.

Earlier in her keynote address at a seminar on ‘Development of Peace and Prosperity for the Korea India Strategic Partnership’ at Observer Research Foundation here, Park, also the Ambassador for Public Diplomacy, said, “Our government has started a bold journey towards peace process in Korean Peninsula. We ask for your (India’s) wisdom and full support again.”

“But the journey we have taken is a long one and it is not an easy one. It is rocky and there are challenges but we are very determined in pursuing peace in the Korean peninsula. People should live on the Peninsula which is free from any threat of nuclear war. And, we are confident that we can achieve it with full support and concerted efforts from the international community,” she said.

Asked if South Korea could think of joining the ‘Quad’ (a multilateral platform comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia), she said, “Maybe in the future, but right now our military assets are focusing on our security in the peninsula, because our security in the peninsula is still very vulnerable.”

On ease of doing business in India, Park said, “We have about 700 (South Korean) companies in India and they have found opportunities to do business. Indian economy is complimentary to our economy.”

“Foreign companies need fair access to the market and they want to see less regulation, so that is what the Indian government is doing to make the business environment more favourable, friendly to foreign companies. There are problems… the speed is slow, but it is on the right track,” she said.