Tanzania denies diplomatic relations with North Korea

16Sep 2017
Aisia Rweyemamu
Dar es salaam
The Guardian
Tanzania denies diplomatic relations with North Korea

THE government yesterday maintained its stance that it has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, insisting that it supports resolutions by the United Nations sanctions imposed on the country.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and International Cooperation Dr. Augustine Mahiga addresses a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday when he issued a government statement to the effect that Tanzania does not have any diplomatic relations with North Korea, and that it supports the resolutions by the United Nations Security Council and enforces suctions imposed on the country. He is flanked by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr. Aziz Mlima. PHOTO: MAELEZO

The government’s stated position comes in the wake of recent claims by a UN panel of experts that Tanzania was being investigated for alleged military dealings with a North Korean company worth more than $12 million.

According to reports from New York, Tanzania and Uganda are among several African countries under UN scrutiny for alleged violations of sanctions against North Korea.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Augustine Mahiga said Tanzania’s agreements with North Korea ceased immediately after the sanctions came into force.

Previously, there were agreements with North Korea in diplomatic, political, business and military spheres but all these ceased following the sanctions, the minister told a news conference in Dar es Salaam.

Dr Mahiga said Tanzania had an agreement with North Korea to improve its security organs but the agreement was halted in 2014 after Tanzania was asked to do so by the UN.

“Of course, there was a process in ending these contracts, but we ended them and we did not renew contracts with them,” said Dr Mahiga.

He added that Tanzania continued to have contractual obligations with North Korea over military equipment it provided and the former had to finalize its payments despite having stopped any association.

Dr Mahiga said he would be travelling to New York for the UN General Assembly where he was expected to meet with the five UN permanent members to assure them that Tanzania had ceased relations with North Korea.

The minister said he would make it clear that Tanzania did not condone North Korea's decision to continue producing deadly missiles and that it was calling for peaceful dialogue to end hostility and not continuous threats.

“Tanzania does not support what North Korea is doing because we believe that the existence of nuclear weapons is a major threat to the world,” he said.

Dr Mahiga said the report by the UN was outdated and most of the information listed in the report had already been addressed by the government soon after the sanctions were announced.

He said that yesterday he met with representatives of the UN five permanent Security Council members - the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France - and updated them about the situation on the ground.

Dr Mahiga admitted to have received a letter from the UN Security Council asking Tanzania to give information on the claimed diplomatic ties with North Korea.

The letter also asked Tanzania to explain steps it had so far taken to implement resolutions passed by the UN Security Council, including whether experts from North Korea who installed some of the military equipment were still in the country.

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