‘It’s an interesting time for us to send a gesture of friendship’: Queen sparks a backlash after sending a message to communist dictator Kim Jong-un to mark North Korea’s National Day – after country announced it had tested new missiles
- Her Majesty the Queen sent the message via the Foreign Office on September 7
- The FCDO confirmed that the congratulation were sent ‘as has been done before’
- But the timing confused people as North Korea again began flexing its muscles
- In recent days the country has launched two ballistic missiles and fired new kind
The Queen has raised eyebrows by expressing her ‘good wishes’ to North Korea on its national day as Kim Jong-un continued to test missiles.
Her Majesty sent the message via the Foreign Office on September 7, in time for the celebrations two days later.
Buckingham Palace and the FCDO confirmed the congratulations were given ‘as has been done before’.
But the timing confused people as it was just days before North Korea again began flexing its muscles.
In recent days the country has launched two ballistic missiles and fired a new kind of weapon with possible nuclear capabilities.
Her Majesty (pictured last month) sent the message via the Foreign Office on September 7, in time for the celebrations two days later
Kim Jong Un has test-fired two ballistic missiles which landed near North Korea’s east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military has said
The test comes just three days after North Korea fired a new kind of cruise missile (pictured), which analysts believe could carry a nuclear warhead
Local media said the message read: ‘As the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea celebrate their national day, I send my good wishes for the future.’
But it was not handed to the British press or published on the Royal’s social media account as has become standard practice.
North Korea marked the country’s 73rd anniversary with a typical show of military strength in Pyongyang.
Her Majesty is believed to have penned similar missives with the country in the past, with them written on the advice of the Foreign Office.
But experts have been left baffled by the move as it is said to be the first time her message has been published.
Aidan Foster-Carter, a North Korea expert at Leeds University, told the Telegraph: ‘With North Korea in the doghouse, it’s an interesting time for us to send a gesture of friendship.
‘The key thing we need to know is what exactly has changed here. It certainly seems to be the first time North Korean media have published such a greeting from Her Majesty the Queen.’
He added: ‘We need to know who has changed their policy: the UK, sending for the first time?
‘Or North Korea, publishing for the first time. If the former, further questions arise. Why now? And on whose initiative?’
North Korean media said the message was received on September 7, two days before the communist state celebrated the 73rd anniversary of its founding. Above: The night-time military parade which marked the day
State newspaper Rodong Sinmun ran the message on page two along with those from other foreign leaders such as China’s president Xi Jinping.
North Korea is understood to have sent Her Majesty messages in the past to mark her official birthday.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘Her Majesty in all dealings with other Heads of State acts on the advice of the FCDO.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘As in previous years, The Queen has sent a message to the people of the DPRK on the occasion of their national day.’
Meanwhile North Korea today test-fired two ballistic missiles days after firing a new kind of cruise missile with possible nuclear capabilities.
Hours after reports of the North Korean test, South Korea’s presidential office said it conducted its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon
A domestically built South Korean missile fired from a 3,000-ton submarine flew a set distance before hitting a designated target
South Korea’s military said the two missiles were fired from an unknown inland location before coming down somewhere near the east coast.
The move is likely designed as a provocation to Joe Biden and other world leaders, as ballistic missile tests violate UN resolutions on the North’s weapons programme.
Hours later South Korea’s presidential office said it conducted its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test on Wednesday afternoon.
It said a domestically built missile fired from a 3,000-ton submarine flew a set distance before hitting a designated target.
The statement said the weapon is expected to help Seoul deter potential external threats, boost its self-defence and promote peace on the Korean peninsula.
It comes two weeks after Kim Jong Un restarted a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon which had been shut down during negotiations with Donald Trump.
Kim had shut down much of his nuclear programme and scuttled his main nuclear testing site during the negotiations, in which he hoped to convince Trump to lift crippling economic sanctions in return for permanently giving up his nukes.
The leaders met three times – an historic achievement for Kim, who was the first North Korean leader ever to meet with an American president – but the talks ultimately foundered with the two sides failing to reach an agreement.
Since then, North Korea has carried out a series of low-level missile tests in an attempt to force America back to the negotiating table.
Joe Biden has said he is willing to meet with Kim, but said the pre-condition of any such meeting would be a serious commitment to scrapping his nuclear arsenal.
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