SEOUL/GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday that the World Economic Forum’s decision to withdraw a ministerial invitation to a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, following its recent nuclear test was “based on unjust political motivation” driven by the United States.
In a U-turn, the Geneva-based WEF announced on Wednesday that North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong’s invitation to the Jan. 20-23 meeting had been revoked after Pyongyang carried out a fourth nuclear test in defiance of a United Nations ban.
In a letter to the organizer from its U.N. ambassador in Geneva, seen by Reuters, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it had hoped to have the opportunity to demonstrate its economic performance and promote economic cooperation.
It would have been the first time in 18 years that a North Korean delegation attended the event, a gathering place for elite from the worlds of politics, business and entertainment.
“Unfortunately, however, the WEF side has unilaterally canceled the participation of the DPRK delegation based on unjust political motivation which clearly runs counter to the nature and position of WEF as an international forum for discussion of economic issues,” said the letter.
Yann Zopf, a WEF spokesman, said he could not confirm receipt of the letter addressed to managing board member Philipp Roesler or comment.
But Myong Nam Choe, deputy ambassador at North Korea’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, told Reuters: “It was physically hand-delivered. We were waiting outside the WEF to make sure the organizers got it the first thing in the morning”.
South Korea warned North Korea on Wednesday that the United States and its allies were working on sanctions to inflict “bone-numbing pain” after its latest nuclear test, and urged China to do its part to rein in its isolated neighbor.
“We believe the decision by WEF is based on political motivation because the organizer has suddenly decided to cancel, taking sides with the belligerent United States and its allies that are pursuing hostile policies against DPRK,” Choe said. “We are 100 percent sure there is pressure and even blackmail.”
North Korea’s ambassador in Geneva, Se Pyong So had met WEF organizers as recently as Monday to discuss preparations for Ri’s participation, while Choe had met them on Tuesday, he said.
“We were informed a few minutes before the press conference by telephone,” Choe said of the canceled invitation.
Editing by Dominic Evans