North Koreans Refused Entry To Sri Lanka
The government last week refused to approve visas for four North Koreans to attend a seminar in Katunayake, organisers of the seminar said. The seminar held on Friday was organised by the Sri Lanka – North Korea Friendship Association.
President of the Sri Lanka – North Korea Friendship Association Duminda Welpola told The Sunday Leader the North Koreans were among foreign delegates invited for the seminar.
He said that the organisers were informed by the officials that the visas cannot be approved as it could hurt Sri Lanka’s relations with South Korea.
The seminar was held with the participation of delegates from the Self Reliance Societies of Japan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Mongolia.
Organisers of the seminar are linked to the joint opposition and The Sunday Leader learns the joint opposition had contacted the Foreign Ministry and sought approval for the visas but the visas were never approved.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se was in Sri Lanka last week at the same time the delegates for the seminar were in the country.
Relations between North Korea and South Korea are at its lowest after North Korea test fired nuclear missiles over the past few months.
A report submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) recently questioned links established between Sri Lanka and North Korea, led by Kim Jong-un.
The report by a Panel of Experts appointed by the UN has found that a North Korean diplomat had talks with the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry in November 2015.
The Panel established that a representative from Angola, a diplomat from Korea named Kim Hyok Chan, and another Angola-based diplomat Jon Chol Young, travelled together to Sri Lanka three times (between 2014 and 2016) to discuss shipbuilding projects.
Described as boat-building experts, they reportedly met with the State Minister of Defence of Sri Lanka on November 5, 2015 to discuss building naval patrol vessels at a Sri Lankan shipyard prior to sale to its Navy.
The Panel said in the report tabled by the Security Council on February 27, it has yet to receive a reply from Sri Lanka.
However, when contacted, the Foreign Ministry said that there was no reason to refuse entry to anyone and even if it was rejected it has nothing to do with the Foreign Ministry.