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North Korea participation in AIIB could boost nuclear security, analyst says

Pyongyang’s participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could lead to a "successor framework" to the six-party talks, said a former vice president of the World Bank.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea participation in AIIB could boost nuclear security, analyst says
A former vice president of the World Bank said a gradual approach to financial engagement with North Korea could begin incrementally – by according the reclusive country with “observer status” within the AIIB. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

SEOUL, May 27 (UPI) -- A North Korea membership in the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could open a door to strengthening security in Northeast Asia, a former World Bank executive said.

In an editorial on a website affiliated with the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Bradley O. Babson said Tuesday the 57-member bank has the potential to bring North Korean participation to infrastructure projects in Asia.

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The absence of the United States and Japan in the AIIB also means a North Korea application to join would not be the target of a veto from Washington or Tokyo, Babson said.

Pyongyang's participation in the AIIB could lead to a "successor framework" to the six-party talks – a multilateral effort to bring denuclearization to the Korean peninsula, he said.

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But in order to be taken seriously by China and other members of the AIIB, Babson said Pyongyang must "clear transparency and other administrative hurdles."

South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported China is to hold the largest stake in the AIIB, followed by India.

The former vice president of the World Bank suggested that a gradual approach to financial engagement with North Korea could begin incrementally – by according the reclusive country with "observer status" within the AIIB.

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In February, according to reports, China rejected a North Korea request to join the AIIB, based on North Korea's financial standing.

Membership in the AIIB for North Korea can only be realized when the country can provide specific details on its economic and financial condition – a challenge for North Korea.

The incentives to join the AIIB for North Korea, however, are high. Pyongyang faces serious constraints to expanded investment and trade – and AIIB-funded North Korea infrastructure projects could do away with the limitations that have resulted with economic sanctions imposed against the country.

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"By helping Pyongyang to fund infrastructure that it badly needs for economic growth, the bank could help advance discussions in political talks on security issues," Babson wrote.

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