North Korea (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HL Deb 03 December 1990 vol 524 cc7-8

2.56 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps are being taken to establish diplomatic and trade relations with North Korea.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, we have no plans to establish diplomatic relations or governmental trade links with North Korea.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

My Lords, I shall not thank the Minister for that reply. I accept it. After 40 years of peace in that part of the world, is it not tragic that we are not entering into diplomatic or trade relations with North Korea? Is he aware that many of our European partners and members of the Commonwealth who have entered into diplomatic and trade relations with that country are now carrying out trade, which we cannot do because we have no contact?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the noble Lord will well realise the exceptional circumstances in the Korean peninsular. He will remember that the Republic of Korea was recognised in 1948 by the United Nations as the only valid government in Korea. Of course we welcome and support efforts for a peaceful settlement to the Korean peninsular problems. We support the recent high level meetings between North and South Korea and should contribute to their process. On the noble Lord's second question, in the Community only Denmark and Portugal have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, will the Minister assist by telling the House the current balance of trade figures with North and South Korea respectively? What were the comparable figures last year?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord the figures for South Korea. However, to North Korea we exported £3.7 million worth of goods in the first nine months of the year and imported £0.3 million worth.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that to some of us it seems odd that the Government should have restored diplomatic relations with Syria despite the fact that the Syrians refused to recognise action against Israel as terrorism but will not recognise that North Korea has been a distinct entity for over 40 years? Would it not be right and proper now to give that country some diplomatic recognition?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, we continue to keep the matter under review. However, in view of what I said earlier we do not consider that now is the appropriate time to take such action.