North Korea’s deputy foreign minister Ri Kil Song met with the Iranian foreign minister in Tehran to discuss the expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries, Iranian news agency Fars News reported on Monday.
Citing significant overlap between the two nations’ stances on numerous domestic and international issues, both ministers said they wanted to work towards sustainable relations between Tehran and Pyongyang.
“The people and government of (North) Korea have always wanted the success and increasing progress of Iran. They have always supported Iran’s peaceful nuclear policy and opposed imposition of political and economic pressures on the country,” Song told assembled reporters in Tehran.
The Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also used the meeting to signal Iran’s continued support of reconciliation between North and South Korea.
The meeting between the high-ranking officials comes just a few months after Iran signed the Geneva interim agreement in November. The deal outlines a plan for the easing of economic sanctions in return for freezing parts of the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program.
“There is reason for concern about ties between Iran and North Korea, given their ongoing cooperation on ballistic missile development and the potential for them also to cooperate in nuclear technologies,” Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at IISS told NK News.
The event marks the second time in less than two weeks that officials in Iran and North Korea have spoken about co-operation, after the Korean Central News Agency reported last week that the North Korean delegation led by Song had left Pyongyang on February 20.
Further analysis using the NK News KNCA Watch data tool also reveals that one day prior to the group’s departure, the Iranians held a reception at their embassy in Pyongyang. Iranian Ambassador Mansour Chavoshi, North Korea’s minister for foreign trade and various other DPRK officials, attended the event.
“Iran and the DPRK have supported each other in the international arena with their common stand. The ambassador said these bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation are steadily developing in politics, economy, culture and other fields,” KCNA reported Chavoshi as saying at the event.
There remain doubts however as to how closely Iran would want to be affiliated with the DPRK, having signed the landmark Geneva interim agreement so recently.
“At a time when Iran is trying to improve the image it presents to the world, I am sceptical that it is truly expanding its relations with North Korea. Eloquent statements about expanding ties are a standard feature of any high level visit, but they rarely amount to much.” Fitzpatrick told NK News.
Featured Image: IRNA News Agency