US concerned over alleged extension of visa for 17 North Koreans

Published On: November 20, 2019 07:18 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 20: Although Nepal earlier wrote to the UN Security Council (UNSC) that 33 North Korean nationals had left the country in compliance with the UN resolutions against North Korea, the US has expressed dissatisfaction that Nepal had not taken effective measures to stop North Korean businesses in Nepal.

Sources said, the US has expressed concerns with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) over the alleged extension of the visa for 17 North Koreans for two more months till December. 

This, according to US officials, violates the provision in the the UNSC Resolution 2375, which states that “states shall not provide work authorization for DPRK national in their jurisdictions after September 11, 2017.” 

This means that no new visa will be issued to any new North Korean workers and their visas will not be renewed.

When asked to confirm if the Department of Immigration (DoI) had extended visas of any North Korean nationals, Director General of the DoI Eshor Raj Poudel expressed ignorance about the issue. “I am not aware of it,” he said.

In the note-verbale submitted to the UNSC on November 7, Nepal had also stated that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies had directed North Korean businesses to cease their operations before October 31. However, US officials have maintained that North Korean businesses that employ North Korean nationals as workers continue to operate in Nepal.

Earlier, the US along with other western countries had sent a demarche to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) cautioning Nepal not to go against the UNSC resolutions, namely UNSCR 2375 and UNSCR 2397. As per the UNSCR 2397, all UN member states should repatriate all North Korean nationals earning income in their respective countries by December 22, 2019.

Foreign Ministry sources, however, said the US was trying to blow the “non-issue” out of proportion. Government officials described the US concern as a tactic to exert undue pressure for a country that is working to honor both the UN resolutions in their entirety.

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