Mexico Will Keep North Korean Ship Detained
On Monday, Mexican authorities assured South Korea that they would continue to hold the North Korean freighter Mu Du Bong, which was detained in 2014 as a suspected asset of the blacklisted North Korean firm Ocean Maritime Management (OMM).
The 10,000 dwt vessel went aground off of Tuxpan, Veracruz in July 2014, damaging about an acre of rare coral reef in Mexico's coastal waters, authorities said. After lightering fuel, salvors were able to refloat her and bring her to the port of Tuxpan, where she has remained in detention since.
Mexico returned the 33-member crew of the Mu Du Bong to North Korea last year.
The Mu Du Bong is not on the list of OMM vessels explicitly sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council in its resolution of March 2, which is intended to constrict financing and trade related to North Korean nuclear activity. One of the vessels on the list, the Jin Teng, was detained last month by the Philippines in Subic Bay. Following pressure from China, the Security Council lifted sanctions on the Jin Teng and three other vessels, and Philippine authorities permitted her to sail; as of Monday she was stopped off the coast of China, northeast of Qingdao. Neither UNSC decision appears to have affected Mexico’s position on the fate of the Mu Du Bong.
In related news, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto met Monday in Mexico City, and are expected to sign bilateral agreements on infrastructure, water resources and cooperation between the state-owned development banks Bancomext and Eximbank. They have agreed to hold detailed free trade talks later in the year.
South Korea has expressed a high level of interest in free trade with Mexico, which has become its largest trading partner in South and Central America, while Mexico is said to be seeking financing for transportation projects.