SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is welcome to join the World Bank (WB) as a member when it meets the international community's expectations for "peace and stability," one of the financial institution's senior officials said Wednesday.
Mahmoud Mohieldin, the World Bank Group's senior vice president, said Pyongyang will have to go through necessary procedures to get support from its 198 members and this would become possible only if it fulfills its denuclearization pledge.
"The World Bank Group is happy to welcome any of the remaining countries that have not become the member of the group," including North Korea, Mohieldin said in a roundtable interview held in Seoul. "There are certain areas of works that are very much required before the membership, including meeting the expectations of the international community for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."
Mohieldin, the bank's senior vice president for the 2030 Development Agenda, UN Relations and Partnerships, visited Seoul to attend the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices International Conference.
For the reclusive state to join the WB, it must first join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and then has to go through joint procedures of the two organizations, including sharing information on its economies.
WB works with developing countries to reduce poverty and foster development by providing financing, policy advice and technical assistance to governments, and the IMF serves to secure financial and monetary stability.
To get support from member governments, the bank official stressed the Pyongyang regime needs to make the transition into a more open economy.
"Fortunately, my organization is not a political organization. So we don't normally comment on political matters or political procedures," Mohieldin said. "So we're ready when the applicant country is ready, and we will go through the procedures."
As it takes time to complete procedures for a full membership even if it meets required criteria, WB can still consider possible technical and financial support for North Korea, like it did in other nations, Mohieldin said.
"But again, until this moment, I will say it's premature to discuss these arrangements," he added.
At the UN General Assembly last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korea has made progress in its denuclearization and its leader Kim Jong-un expressed willingness to join the IMF, the World Bank and other international agencies to open up its economy.
Pyongyang has been under heavy international sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests, which have put limits on Seoul's push to engage in cross-border projects proposed at the recent inter-Korean summits.
Joining the bank membership would provide the cash-strapped regime access to financial and technical assistance, which is essential for developing its outdated infrastructure.
Source: Yonhap News Agency