Qatar restricts visa issuance to N.K. workers: source
SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- Qatar has been limiting the issuance of new visas to North Korean workers in line with international sanctions designed to starve Pyongyang of resources for its nuclear weapons program, a government source in Seoul said Friday.
About 2,000 North Koreans are estimated to be working in the Middle Eastern nation to earn money for Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile development.
"Qatar is actively cooperating in terms of putting pressure on the North and taking steps to limit the issuance of new visas to North Korean workers," the source said on the condition of anonymity.
Qatar joins a growing list of nations that have adopted measures targeting North Korean workers since the U.N. Security Council imposed toughened sanctions on Pyongyang in March over its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year.
Poland has also suspended visa issuance to North Korean workers.
The issue was raised during a meeting between South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah in Seoul on Thursday, according to Yun's office.
Seoul's top diplomat called for Qatar's continued interest in the human rights situation of North Korean laborers in the Middle Eastern nation as he thanked Qatar for joining the international community's efforts to put pressure on Pyongyang, the ministry said in a press release.
The ministers also agreed to maintain close cooperation in enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korea, noting that Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs threaten peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
The talks covered a wide range of issues, including growing cooperation in defense, health care and other areas outside of their traditional spectrum of energy, construction and shipbuilding. Qatar is South Korea's top supplier of liquefied natural gas and third-largest supplier of crude oil.
The Qatari minister especially expressed hope for closer cooperation in the defense industry through transfers of South Korean defense technology and other exchanges based on his country's needs.
Yun asked Al-Attiyah for his support for South Korean firms seeking to participate in various infrastructure projects in Qatar ahead of its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (R) and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah hold talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on July 7, 2016, in this photo provided by the ministry. (Yonhap)