SYRIAN President Bashar Al-Assad has expressed plans to visit Kim Jong Un, according to North Korean reported, paving way for the first ever meeting between the supreme leader and another head of state in Pyongyang.
On Sunday, North Korean state news agency KCNA said Assad had received credentials from North Korean Ambassador Mun Jong Nam on May 30. “I am going to visit the DPRK and meet HE Kim Jong Un,” Assad was quoted as saying.
“The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political caliber and wise leadership of HE Kim Jong Un.”
Pyongyang and Damascus maintain good relations, and United Nations monitors have accused North Korea of cooperating with Syria on chemical weapons, a charge the North denies.
Both countries have faced international isolation, North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme, and Syria over its tactics during a bloody civil war.
Since the beginning of the year, however, North Korea’s Kim has launched a flurry of diplomatic meetings with leaders in China and South Korea, and is scheduled to hold a summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.
“I am sure that he will achieve the final victory and realize the reunification of Korea without fail,” Assad said.
“The Syrian government will as ever fully support all policies and measures of the DPRK leadership and invariably strengthen and develop the friendly ties with the DPRK.”
Since taking power in 2011, Kim has not publicly met with another head of state in North Korea.
According to South Korea’s foreign ministry, North Korea established diplomatic relations with Syria in 1966, opening its embassy in Damascus. Syria opened its mission in Pyongyang in 1969.
Close military cooperation between the two countries began when North Korea sent some 530 troops including pilots, tank drivers and missile personnel to Syria during the Arab-Israeli war in October 1973.
Additional reporting by Reuters