KAMPALA, Uganda: Uganda is cutting military ties with North Korea to comply with U.N. sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear program, a Ugandan official said Monday following a meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and South Korea’s visiting president.
Uganda’s government is simply “disengaging from military co-operation” and not cutting diplomatic ties with the North Koreans, said Col. Shaban Bantariza, a spokesman for the Ugandan government.
The policy shift comes as South Korean President Park Geun-hye is visiting Uganda. She attended a state banquet Sunday hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. At the event, Uganda and South Korea signed 10 cooperation agreements in areas such as defense, health and education. It appears Museveni assured the South Korean delegation he would sever security ties with North Korea, which has good diplomatic relations with Uganda.
In an address to the African Union in Ethiopia on Friday, Park urged African leaders to support international efforts to persuade its hostile neighbor, North Korea, to stop its production of nuclear weapons.
North Korea has been training the Ugandan security forces in physical fitness, marine warfare and weapons handling, and senior leaders from North Korea have visited Uganda over the years.
Museveni, who has held power here since 1986, has previously praised Pyongyang as an exemplar of the fight against what he describes as Western imperialism.
In 2014 Museveni hosted a state dinner in honor of North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, and said the North Koreans are “friends who have helped Uganda for a long time.”
Now, the recently re-elected Museveni is looking to seal development deals with Asian partners such as China and South Korea as this East African country tries to industrialize its economy. Chinese contractors are involved in road construction in Uganda and the Chinese national oil company has invested in Uganda’s oil sector.