We will Invest in Nepal’s Hydroelectric, Agriculture Sectors: North Korea
According to reports, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) new ambassador to Kathmandu, Jo Yong Man, said during a meeting with the speaker of the country’s parliament over the weekend that North Korea is interested in investing in Nepal’s hydroelectric and agriculture industries. The report was also found on many local news site and Facebook.
Ambassador Jo Yong Man, who got the role in January, had a meeting in Kathmandu to discuss bilateral relations with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a member of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Jo expressed hopes of strengthening North Korea-Nepali ties by highlighting interest in investment by way of sustaining cooperation between the two countries.
DPRK’s interests in such sectors and how it intends to get involved is yet unclear, though there may be a possibility of contributing expertise and/or workers to assist in such projects in Nepal.
There is a history of cooperation between the two countries in the hydroelectric sector. In 2015, North Korea had 54 of its labourers deported on the grounds of working illegally on the construction of a power plant in Nepal.
International sanctions prohibit the signing of contracts for North Korea labourers abroad, and operating any joint ventures with any North Korean entity.
The speaker who spoke positively over the weekend said that the relations between the two countries are “very strong and prosperous”, especially as they look to stabilize the peace process on the Korean peninsula. He called for the formation of an “inter-parliamentary friendship”, stating that such could form a forum for sharing experiences between the two countries.
Jo, who had previously served in the same capacity in Zimbabwe, presented his credentials in January following the exit of Kim Yong Hak, who was ambassador until last November.
Shortly after his appointment, Jo met with Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and extended an invitation to visit Pyongyang “at an appropriate time”, according to reports by Online Khabar, a local news outlet.
The last time a Nepalese official was invited to have an official visit to the DPRK, it was cancelled due to pressure from the United States or America.
The former Ambassador Kim Yong Hak, in January 2018 invited Nepalese ex-prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, now co-chairperson of NCP, to visit Pyongyang for foundation day celebration in September. Despite Dahal initially accepting and agreeing, he later cancelled the trip in August in order “to maintain good relations with the international community, including western countries,” according to a NCP spokesperson.
Nepal, like many other allies has been pushed by the United States to stay committed to punishing North Korea for their relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons, by enforcing sanctions and encouraging the severance of diplomatic relations.
According to a State Department report, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali in Washington last December, where the two discussed “Nepal’s central role in a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific” as well as “global issues, including North Korea.”
It was reported that Pompeo seized the opportunity to encourage Kathmandu to use their close ties to press North Korea to denuclearize.
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