World Bulletin/News Desk
Uganda and North Korea on Friday signed a cooperation deal under which the two countries will exchange official delegations to discuss matters of mutual concern and international interest.
The deal came on the sidelines of a visit by Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to the East African nation.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ugandan State Minister for International Affairs Okello Oryem expressed his government's gratitude to North Korea for training its army.
"Uganda has an outstanding army in Africa, so thank you for your contribution towards building the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF)," Oryem told North Korean Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Kung Suk Ung.
North Korea trained Uganda's first tank corps in 1987, provided Uganda's military with a $4-million loan, sent 40 military advisors to the country, and trained a number of Ugandan fighter pilots.
Besides training Uganda's military, North Korea has also trained Ugandan police officers.
Recent reports have also suggested that Uganda had purchased anti-riot gear from North Korea.
At the meeting, the North Korean official said his country had closed several diplomatic offices around the world "due to financial constraints."
However, he said, "on the side of Uganda, we have strengthened our offices and shall continue to cooperate with Uganda in the economic sector."
The deal signed by the two governments envisions the establishment of a joint consultative committee to promote bilateral relations. Committee meetings are to be held alternately in Kampala and in Pyongyang every two years.
Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda held a meeting earlier with Yong-nam, during which they discussed North Korean nuclear disarmament.
"Uganda continues to support the initiative of the six-party talks chaired by China to peacefully resolve this issue through negotiations between the parties concerned," Rugunda said at the meeting.
The six-party talks are a series of multilateral negotiations – hosted by Beijing since 2003 and attended by North Korea, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. – that seek a peaceful resolution to security concerns on the Korean Peninsula. The talks, however, are currently suspended.
Rugunda said both nations should remain committed to closer cooperation in the fields of national development and international affairs, with a view to "upholding the rights and interests of developing countries in the quest for global security, peace and prosperity."
For his part, Yong-nam, North Korea's second-in-command, said diplomatic relations with Uganda were being cultivated by the two countries' respective leaders, but added that "reactionary forces were bent on sabotaging them."
"Imperialists and colonialists are creating artificial impediments to Africa's development; we need unity to overcome them," he said.
During the six-party talks, Yong-nam said North Korea had maintained its position that denuclearization should not target his country alone, but rather should aim to make the Korean Peninsula a "zone of peace."
Instead, Yong-nam said, certain powers had been making nuclear threats against his country in the form of military exercises and continuing the "Cold War," even though this ended decades ago.
In terms of investment, the Ugandan premier urged North Korean companies to help unlock Uganda's economic potential by investing in infrastructure development; information and communications technology; tourism; oil and gas; along with various other nascent sectors.
"East Africa is fast-tracking the integration process, which requires huge investments in transnational and trans-regional infrastructure development, and your [i.e., North Korean] companies are encouraged to play an active role," Rugunda said.
Yong-nam arrived in Uganda on Wednesday evening at the head of a 14-member delegation for a four-day visit to Uganda as part of a wider tour of Africa.
Last Mod: 01 Kasım 2014, 12:31