By Halima Athumani
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - Uganda, up to now one of North Korea’s top remaining allies, has said it will not renew its military and security cooperation with Pyonyang when the current contracts expire.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said late Sunday, “We shall not renew the current contract or even seek new contracts with North Korea.”
Ofwono stated that North Korea has been, among other projects, training the Uganda Police Force and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and supplying arms.
He added that Uganda has had relations with North Korea since the 1960s, during the Milton Obote regime, and ties have continued through the current regime under President Yoweri Museveni. Uganda has been considered one of North Korea’s top allies that still benefit from its military goods and services.
The announcement came after a meeting between visiting South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Museveni at the State House in Entebbe on Sunday.
Park, visiting Uganda for the first time, also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties with Uganda and offered more aid to Uganda.
Ofwono said Uganda will respect the UN sanctions against North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang carrying out its fourth atomic test in January this year and launch of a long-range missile in February.
“Unfortunately we have to disengage our relations unless they respect the UN resolution to use their nuclear [materiel] for [only] medical and scientific purposes,” he added.
In 2015, the United Nations Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 determined that Uganda’s contracts with the Korean People’s Army violated the embargo.
Uganda has also had several of its top military brass trained in North Korea.
A Foreign Ministry statement this afternoon, however, clarified that the cessation of defense and police cooperation does not imply that “Uganda has severed diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
James Mugume, the Foreign Affairs Ministry permanent secretary, said, “Severing diplomatic relations is usually an act preceding a war between two states and is considered an act of hostility.”
Mugume stressed that “Uganda has not transmitted any such communication to Pyongyang or the DPRK Embassy in Uganda.”