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Have Scaled Down Trade Ties But Won't Shutter Embassy in North Korea, India Tells US

India told the US that it has slashed trade with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, but will not close its embassy in Pyongyang to keep channels of communication open.

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Updated:October 26, 2017, 11:08 AM IST
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Have Scaled Down Trade Ties But Won't Shutter Embassy in North Korea, India Tells US
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo tweeted by @MEAIndia)
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New Delhi: India has slashed trade with North Korea in line with UN sanctions over the North's nuclear tests but will not close its Pyongyang embassy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The issue figured during talks between the two leaders in the national capital.

"We had open discussion on both the issues — trade reduction and closing the embassy. I told Secretary Tillerson that as far as trade is concerned it has come down, really come down. It has become minimal," Swaraj said when asked about the divergence between Indian and the US on ties with North Korea.

She also said that "our embassy size there is very small. But the embassy is there and I told Secretary Tillerson that some of your friendly nations' embassies should stay there so that at least some channel of communication remain open. There could be occasions when you need to have a dialogue to resolve some issue".

He "understood" and "appreciated" India's stand on the issue, she said.

The United States has reportedly been urging allies to cut diplomatic ties with the North.

Trade between India and North Korea amounted to $130 million in 2016-17 but in the current fiscal year it stands at $10.95 million, according to official data.

India banned all trade with North Korea, except food and medicine, from April, in line with UN sanctions over North Korea's nuclear tests.

While India has strongly condemned North's nuclear tests, it has maintained diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

The United States has led a UN Security Council drive to tighten sanctions against the North for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

After a flurry of missile launches by the North and its sixth nuclear test last month, the UN imposed new sanctions that included bans or restrictions on the export of coal, iron ore and seafood by Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump's administration has been ramping up pressure on major powers, including China, to isolate the North in as many ways as possible.

India and the United States have been forging deeper ties in order to counter Chinese influence in the region.

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