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Uganda reaffirms pledge to sever N.K. ties

South Korea and Uganda on Monday reconfirmed the African state’s pledge to cut its ties with North Korea, claiming that an earlier news report denying such plans was a misunderstanding.

Cheong Wa Dae had announced Sunday that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, during his summit with South Korea counterpart Park Geun-hye, pledged to cut ties with North Korea and to partake in the international moves to sanction Pyongyang for its nuclear program.

“I have instructed officials to faithfully enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution, including disengagement from North Korea in the security, military and police sectors,” Blue House spokesperson Jeong Yeon-guk quoted Musevini as saying.

The international organization in March imposed the toughest sanctions on Pyongyang, in the wake of its fourth atomic test in January and a long-range rocket launch a month later.

Such an unprecedented level of commitment, according to senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, will send a meaningful message to the continent as Uganda is a major African country to have close relationships with the communist regime.

But this diplomatic achievement which South Korea’s presidential office hailed in the course of Park’s swing through key African states was soon overshadowed by a contradicting news report.

France-based news agency AFP reported, shortly after Cheong Wa Dae’s announcement, that Uganda’s official channels had hit back at South Korea’s claim, indicating that South Korea may have committed a diplomatic discourtesy or exaggerated its accomplishment.

“That is not true. Even if (such an order) were to be made, it cannot be made public,” the African state’s deputy government spokesperson Shaban Bantariza was quoted as telling the news agency.

Soon after the news report, the foreign ministries of both countries refuted the Ugandan official’s words.

“We are disengaging the cooperation we have with North Korea, as a result of U.N. sanctions,” Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said in news aired by local broadcaster NBS, according to Seoul.

The Ugandan minister went on to denounce North Korea’s nuclear armament as a threat to world peace and violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

The South Korean ministry also referred to a report by the Wall Street Journal which, quoted the deputy spokesperson as saying that President Museveni had ordered officials to halt all military ties with North Korea.

“There is thought to have been some miscommunication within the Ugandan government,” said an official of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.

Uganda, while welcoming the South Korean president for the first time, has engaged in military cooperation with North Korea since the 1960s. Museveni, since taking power in 1986, has visited the North three times and met with former state leader Kim Il-sung and incumbent Kim Jong-un.

Meanwhile, Park wrapped up her agenda in Uganda on Monday and departed for Nairobi, Kenya, the last stop on her three-nation tour of Africa.


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