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The New York Times reports that Uganda has agreed to stop all cooperation with North Korea following a summit meeting between President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea.
Museveni agreed to cooperate with United Nations sanctions against North Korea that seek to deprive the country of revenue sources for its banned nuclear and missile programme. The move will deprive North Korea of a key destination for arms and other exports.
“We are disengaging the cooperation we are having with North Korea, as a result of UN sanctions,” Sam Kutesa, Uganda’s foreign minister, told the Ugandan broadcaster NBS Television.
Colonel Shaban Bantariza, a spokesman for the Ugandan government, said the country is not cutting diplomatic ties with North Korea, but simply “disengaging from military cooperation.”
Uganda and North Korea have had a long history of cooperation. The North’s instructors have been in Uganda for years, according to a UN sanctions reports, providing training in weapons and other areas. In addition, Uganda “was also believed to be a crucial buyer of rifles and other small arms from North Korea,” writes the Times.
North Korean officials have been visiting the African country since the rule of Kim Il-sung – grandfather of Kim Jong-un, the current leader of North Korea – who tried to foster connections with African nations.
Museveni, who has held power in Uganda since 1986, himself visited North Korea at least three times: in 1987, 1990, and 1992.
In the last three years, South Korea exported $350,000 worth of light military equipment to Uganda, effectively easing the country’s reliance on the North. The efforts seem to have finally paid off.