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15.03 3 Nov 2017


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Updated: 17.15

The Department of Foreign Affairs has rejected a proposal by a number of Independent Alliance TDs to travel to North Korea.

John Halligan wrote to the North Korean embassy in London, seeking to visit the reclusive state.

The Irish Daily Mail reported he wanted to meet with leader Kim Jong-un in January or February, in a bid to calm nuclear tensions.

Mr Halligan has said it is not good enough that the only dialogue towards Korea from the west has been US President Donald Trump threatening to blow them up.

He and his party colleague Finian McGrath told the paper they would welcome an opportunity to hold talks.

Mr Halligan said while they may not be able to go as members of the Government, he hoped they could travel as TDs.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says he has spoken with Minister Halligan - and they have agreed that Department of Foreign Affairs officials will provide Mr Halligan with a "full briefing on North Korea" next week.

But the department adds: "The Government position remains that we do not support any parliamentary delegation visiting North Korea at this time, given the sensitivities involved.

"Ireland fully supports the EU policy on the DPRK and the international sanctions regime against North Korea.

"Ireland welcomed the adoption of new EU measures against DPRK by the Foreign Affairs Council on October 16th.

"More recently, the European Council on October 19th re-affirmed its resolve to implement the sanctions regime, and a commitment was made to consider further responses in close consultation with partners."

Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3rd, and has also threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

It has also fired two missiles over Japanese territory in recent months.


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