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US concerned over North Koreans ‘working’ on CPEC projects

ISLAMABAD: 

The United States has expressed serious concerns over the possible employment of North Korean nationals in the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the US embassy in Islamabad had approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey its serious concerns over the “rumours” that Chinese companies were likely involved in hiring services of North Korea to execute CPEC projects in Pakistan.

A UNSC Resolution, 2375 (2017) bars member countries from hiring North Korean nationals. Under the UN resolution, the member states were also bound to repatriate the North Korea nationals who had employment in their territories by December 22, 2019.

Following this resolution, Pakistan also promulgated SRO 1221(1)/2017 on November 21, 2017 to impose ban on issuing work authorisation and visas to the North Korean nationals. Only those North Korean nationals were given exemption, whose contracts had matured before Sept 11, 2017.

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In a recent high-level meeting, the interior ministry had informed the government functionaries that the foreign ministry had conveyed that the US Embassy in Islamabad had expressed concern over the “rumours” of possible employment of North Korea nationals by the Chinese companies that were working on CPEC projects in Pakistan.

The federal cabinet was also informed in a recent meeting that under the UNSC resolution, Pakistan is compiling its mid-term report about the North Korean nationals engaged in employment and subsequently repatriated. The cabinet noted that Pakistan’s visa policy needs some amendment.
It was informed that the grant of visas to all nationals of North Korea would be governed by the foreign ministry keeping in view the US sanctions regime and in line with the SROs issued by foreign ministry. All missions abroad will continue to reflect visa cases of nationals of North Korea to the foreign ministry.

Source: The Express Tribune

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