Saturday 24 February 2018

Leo Varadkar worried 'beastly' things might happen to ministers in North Korea

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Kevin Doyle in California

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to warn three of his ministers against travelling to North Korea because he doesn't want "anything beastly" to happen to them.

Responding to news that Independent Alliance TDs John Halligan, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath have sought a meeting with crazed dictator Kim Jung-un, the Taoiseach said he doesn't envisage such an event taking place.

The ministers wrote to the Korean embassy in London seeking a visit to North Korea - but did not inform the Taoiseach or Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney of their plans. 

The idea has been rejected by the Taoiseach who indicated it would not be a suitable mission for the three ministers.

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un
North Korean leader Kim Jung Un

Speaking tonight while on a trade mission in the United States, Mr Varadkar said: “It is not something that I envisage going ahead. I am sure that it is motivated from good intentions on his part.

“It is of course a dangerous place to go and I certainly wouldn't want anything beastly happening to any minister of state or member of Government."

The Department of Foreign Affairs is to arrange a briefing for Mr Halligan on the situation in North Korea next Monday.

Earlier Mr Halligan told RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke programme: The greatest threat to peace in the world is on the Korean peninsula.

“We’re not going as members of the government, we’re going as three politicians.

“Any TD is at liberty to go to a country and visit, we’re not doing anything sensational, we’re not talking sides, we’re trying to initiate peace talks,” he added.

 Asked what he would say to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Mr Halligan replied:  “I would ask him to engage with democracy.”

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