HC Deb 12 March 2002 vol 381 cc754-5
7. Mr. John Grogan (Selby)

What recent contact he has had with the Government of North Korea to discuss bilateral relations. [39570]

11. Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

What recent discussions he has had with North Korea on international security. [39574]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs(Mr. Denis MacShane)

The North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister, Choe Su Hon, visited London in December. He met my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and I held detailed talks with him. I told Mr. Choe that North Korea should end its missile exports and comply fully with its nuclear commitments under the agreed framework, tackle its poor human rights record, and hold talks with the South Koreans and the United States.

Mr. Grogan

During those discussions, was the question of the "sunshine" policy of engagement with the North of President of South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung, raised? In my hon. Friend's judgment, did President Bush's "axis of evil" speech help or hinder the development of that policy?

Mr. MacShane

The Government strongly support President Kim Dae-Jung's "sunshine" engagement policy. In all my talks in South Korea, I have expressed that support and I urge whoever succeeds him this year as president to continue that policy.

When President Bush interpreted the "axis of evil" speech when he visited the region, he made it quite clear that there was no question of any military attack on North Korea. He repeated what Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has said, that the United States is ready for talks any time and any place with Pyongyang. I again urge the North Koreans to take up that offer.

Mr. Smith

Does my hon. Friend think that the American Administration's nuclear posture review that advocates targeting North Korea and other non-nuclear countries will improve international security? What is more, does he think that it will help or hinder the international community's attempts to deter North Korea from developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deliver a nuclear payload?

Mr. MacShane

Surely the important point is that the policy review, as reported in the press, reiterated the United States' commitment to a "no first use" policy. It also indicated that America was seeking to reduce the number of its nuclear missiles from 6,000 to 2,000. The message that my hon. Friend and other Members surely should convey is that we want North Korea to engage with, to talk to and to open up to the rest of the world. That is the view of South Korea, Japan and China, and, I believe, of the United States—and certainly of Her Majesty's Government.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

Is North Korea not already developing ballistic missiles and is it not building silos for those ballistic missiles? Is it not the case that, when those silos are completed, there will be no way of disarming North Korea short of a dreadful attack?

Mr. MacShane

As I said in my first answer, I told the Vice-Foreign Minister of North Korea that we wanted North Korea to stop the proliferation and export of the missiles that it is building. It is a serious issue, and the hon. Gentleman is right to say that it must be addressed. That is why we want a policy of getting North Korea to the negotiating table—whether with the United States, South Korea or anyone else.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

The Under-Secretary will recall the declaration of March 2000 that called for Government-to-Government dialogue and inter-Korean economic co-operation on the Korean peninsula. Given that President Kim's attempts to engage with the North have been limited in success and given North Korea's substantial military capability, including, we believe, the possession of weapons of mass destruction, will the Under-Secretary urgently press for a specific anti-terrorism agreement between the two countries, which has been requested by the South Koreans? That is at least one way of moving towards creating a sense of peace and stability in the region.

Mr. MacShane

That is a very positive suggestion. I certainly urge the North Koreans to enter into talks with the South Koreans to take that kind of confidence-building agreement forward. It would be most welcome in the region as a whole.