The North-South dialogue has recently emerged as one of the most significant platforms for cooperation between the world’s leading economies. The North-South dialogue was officially launched at the first summit between the leaders of North Korea and the United States in June 2017. Within a year of its inception, the dialogue has already been extended to various other areas of cooperation. One of these areas is security.
In the past year, the North-South dialogue has taken several important steps in the security realm. This has included the participation of the first round of the Dialogue. Security for the Dialogue was provided by the NSAs of the relevant countries. The second round of the Dialogue will take place in Islamabad this month. It will be attended by the NSAs of China, Iran, Pakistan and the UAE. The third round of the Dialogue will take place in Abu Dhabi in 2020.
The North-South dialogue was launched in March this year at the third North-South joint Working Commission meeting in Vladivostok. The leaders of North and South Korea participated in the meeting as special representatives of the two countries. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Russia and China. The two NSAs, Pakistan and the UAE, the two ministers for commerce and the two ministers for trade and development cooperation also participated in the meeting.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement to establish a North-South joint liaison office in the DPRK. In approving the agreement, the North and South Korean leaders also held a historic first, with the two leaders sitting down face-to-face for the first time.
Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline
The feasibility study for the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline was completed in January this year. The final investment decision is expected in 2021. The gas pipeline project is among the top priorities for the Iranian and Pakistani leaders. Once completed, the pipeline will allow Iran to export gas to multiple countries in the region, including India. The project will also enhance Pakistan’s energy security.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
The CPEC is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in recent times. It is being implemented through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project. The corridor will run through the western parts of Pakistan and northern parts of Iran. Once complete, the corridor will connect China’s northwestern Xinjiang region to the Arabian Sea. The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Second India-China border meeting
The first meeting between the Indian and Chinese NSAs took place in June this year. Since then, the two sides have held regular meetings. This January, the Indian NSA Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi participated in the second India-China border meeting. This meeting focussed on the implementation of the consensus reached by the two NSAs during their first meeting. The two NSAs also exchanged views on the implementation of the CPEC and the development of the western connectivity.
Pakistan-UAE Joint Military Commission
The first Pakistan-UAE Joint Military Commission took place in January this year. It was presided over by the Pakistani defence minister and attended by the two UAE chiefs of defence staff. The commission was held in Abu Dhabi, where the UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, representing the chair of the Union Council of Ministers, paid a state visit. This was the first time that the Union Council of Ministers held a meeting outside of Pakistan.
The North-South dialogue has been a triumph for multilateralism. The leaders of the North and South Korea have been key players in bringing the dialogue to fruition. The Iranian and Pakistani leaders have also played an important behind-the-scenes role in extending and promoting the dialogue.
The benefits of the North-South dialogue are quite evident. The Chabahar port in Iran will greatly enhance Pakistan’s economy by allowing access to Indian markets for Pakistani products. Furthermore, the CPEC will provide economic benefits to the people of Pakistan and establish connectivity between Asia’s two most populous countries.