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Australian Current Affairs

Australia cancels diplomatic visit by North Korea in response to nuclear test

North Korea FlagA planned trip to Australia by North Korean diplomats to establish an embassy in Canberra has been cancelled by the Gillard government following a nuclear test by the secretive state.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said officials from Pyongyang were due to arrive in the nation’s capital this weekend to scope out property for a diplomatic post, but had been told they were not welcome at the moment.

“We postponed the arrival of North Korean diplomats in Australia as a gesture following this detonation,” Senator Carr told a Senate estimates hearing.

“They were due to arrive this weekend.”

North Korea on Tuesday conducted an underground nuclear test, with seismic sensors detecting a magnitude 5 shudder in the vicinity of the state’s testing range.

The test, believed to be bigger than previous blasts in 2006 and 2009, was condemned at a specially convened UN Security Council session in which delegates agreed to pursue a resolution tightening sanctions against North Korea.

Senator Carr said Australia was committed to working with South Korea closely at the UN Security Council to work effectively to sanction North Korea over the nuclear blast.

“We would be there with (South) Korea and Japan on the front rank of nations seeking to get this the highest priority,” Senator Carr said.

He also said it was vital to work with North Korea’s ally China to ensure Pyongyang changes its behaviour.

“I am looking for an opportunity to convey to the representatives of Beijing that we understand the sincerity and the strength of their intervention and we believe it is the only nation that I think will have influence on the behaviour of that country,” Senator Carr told the committee.

Last month Senator Carr welcomed a move by Pyongyang to re-establish an embassy in Canberra.

The state’s previous embassy was closed in January 2008, apparently because of financial pressures.

Australia initially established diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1974.

North Korea opened an embassy in Canberra in December 1974, with Australia reciprocating in Pyongyang in April 1975.

In November 1975, North Korea abruptly withdrew its diplomats and expelled the Australian mission.

Relations resumed in 2000 with the embassy in Canberra reopening in 2002.

Source: The Australian – “Bob Carr pulls plug on Pyongyang mission to find property for a new embassy”

About Craig Hill

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