SYDNEY – Australia's government on Thursday canceled a planned visit by North Korean diplomats in the wake of the secretive nation's recent nuclear test.
Officials from Pyongyang had been scheduled to visit Canberra this weekend to try and reopen its embassy, which North Korea closed in 2008 for financial reasons.
The bid to reopen the embassy was initially welcomed by Australia, with Foreign Minister Bob Carr saying last month the move would give Australia the opportunity to air its concerns about what it views as North Korea's "catastrophic position on human rights."
But on Tuesday, North Korea detonated a nuclear device at a remote underground site, defying U.N. Security Council resolutions. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard condemned the nuclear test, which is seen as a key step toward North Korea's goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the U.S.
"We postponed the arrival of North Korean diplomats in Australia as a gesture following this detonation," Carr told a Senate hearing on Thursday.
But Australia still plans to allow North Korea to reestablish its embassy, he said.
"We still adhere to the view that there's value in having a North Korean diplomatic presence here," Carr said.
Australia has diplomatic ties with North Korea, though they are strained. Australia imposed targeted sanctions on North Korea in 2006 in response to Pyongyang's steps to develop atomic weapons.