Pyongyang’s ADB bid to get due consideration, bank chief says

FUKUOKA — North Korea’s bid to gain membership in the Asian Development Bank will not be affected by other ongoing diplomatic negotiations concerning the country, ADB President Mitsuo Sato said May 13.

Speaking at a news conference at the close of a three-day meeting of the ADB’s Board of Governors, Sato said various discussions taking place to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula do not matter much to the development institution. “What we are concerned about is the reaction of each (ADB) member country” to North Korea’s desire to join, he said, noting that the meeting participants will carry the idea home to their governments.

He also said there was no country that reacted negatively to North Korea’s bid during the Fukuoka meeting. The impoverished nation’s desire for membership, which would make it eligible for soft loans from the ADB, was conveyed to the bank’s 56 members earlier this month.

South Korea’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, Kang Kyong Shik, said May 12 in his speech to the gathering that Seoul supports North Korea’s membership, because it would help boost stability in East Asia. Sato expressed satisfaction that this year’s meeting reaffirmed the commitment of members to support the bank’s activities, and brushed aside concerns that the ADB and other multilateral development banks would become marginalized as private sector capital flows increase.

The ADB will continue to have a comparative advantage in such sectors as environment protection and can concentrate on projects that will not provide a viable return, he stressed. He also supported the initiative put forward by Japan to set up a channel for direct dialogue between investors in industrial countries and developing states craving more foreign direct investment, noting the ADB was prepared to participate in the effort.