New Delhi: India on Friday welcomed the prospect of talks between the US and North Korea on the latter’s nuclear and missile programme, but warned that efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula should address concerns about proliferation.

India’s comments followed the US State Department on Friday unexpectedly announcing that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump are to meet in person by May.

This came about twelve hours after US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, while on a tour of Africa, said that talks between the US and North Korea are a “long way off."

Earlier this week, South Korean officials said that North Korea was ready to give up its nuclear weapons if the stability of Kim’s regime was guaranteed. Kim also agreed to meet South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in April for talks.

In his response, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said: “We welcome these developments. India supports all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy. We hope that such engagement will help in reducing tensions and pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula.

“As we have said before, we also believe that any solution to the issues in Korean Peninsula must also take into account and address concerns about the proliferation linkages of DPRK’s (North Korea’s) nuclear and missile programme," Kumar said.

The Trump-Kim meet potentially marks a major breakthrough in easing tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, with countries like South Korea and Japan heaving a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Djibouti, US secretary of state Tillerson said that the decision to talk to Kim was taken by Trump himself. “President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim when conditions were right," Tillerson said. “And I think in the president’s judgment that time has arrived now."

India believes that Pakistan has developed its missile programme —aimed at India—with the help of North Korea and in return for sensitive nuclear technology that Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan stole from Western Europe. New Delhi has been insisting that the international community probe what it calls the “backward linkages" of North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, which it is certain will implicate Pakistan.

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