SEOUL, - North Korea is set to close its embassy in Uganda as part of a broader strategy to improve the operational efficiency of its foreign institutions, according to a report from Ugandan newsmagazine The Independent.
According to a news release by Yonhap News Agency, Jong Tong-hak, North Korea's Ambassador to Uganda, disclosed the planned closure during a courtesy meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The ambassador stated that the move is part of North Korea's "strategic measure to reduce the number of embassies in Africa, including Uganda, to increase the efficiency of the country's external institutions."
Subsequent diplomatic engagements between North Korea and Uganda will be overseen by North Korea's embassy in Equatorial Guinea, the report added.
While the specific rationale for the decision has not been made public, it may be connected to economic challenges stemming from ongoing global sanctions imposed on North Korea due to its nuclear and missile programs.
This development comes years after a notable shift in diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 2016, North Korea withdrew its military officers from Uganda following President Museveni's unexpected commitment to sever all military links with North Korea. The commitment was made during summit talks with then South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
President Museveni has previously made three trips to Pyongyang and has met with North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, the late grandfather of the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Diplomatic relations between North Korea and Uganda were originally established in 1963. They were briefly severed in 1964 for reasons that remain unclear but were reestablished in July 1972.
The closure occurs as North Korea seeks to strengthen its diplomatic ties with Uganda and other African nations, particularly in the context of its increasing diplomatic isolation under multiple United Nations Security Council sanctions. North Korea's affiliation with some African countries traces back to the era of Kim Il-Sung, who actively cultivated relationships with African nations as part of the Non-Aligned Movement against imperialism in the late 20th century.